Overview of the First Impression Community Exchange Program

A group of people having a discussionA First Impressions Community Exchange (FICE) is a structured and cost-effective process that reveals the first impression a community conveys to potential visitors, investors and new residents. The results can serve as the basis for action plans to enhance or build on community strengths and address challenges.

FICE is a partnership with a peer community where each community visits the other and uses a checklist to inform each other of the strengths and challenges identified during the visit. A visiting team is typically made up of 6-8 community residents with diverse backgrounds, occupations, ages, etc. in order to assess the exchange community from a variety of perspectives. The team travels together to the exchange community, where they spend several hours gathering information individually or in pairs. The team then prepares a report and presents it to the exchange community. The exchange community reciprocates with a similar visit and report-back.

By participating in the FICE program, communities benefit from the feedback they receive from the visiting team. In addition, community volunteers gain insights from their visit to the exchange community. The program supports and catalyzes voluntarism and a community’s sense of belonging.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs FICE Program was launched in 2005. Since then FICE has been successfully implemented in more than 170 communities in Ontario.

The Ontario FICE Program is available in three versions:

  • Full Picture
  • Tourism
  • Downtown

Further details on each version of the FICE Program will be highlighted in upcoming blogs. For more information on OMAFRA’s FICE Program visit our website or contact your Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor


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