First Impressions Community Exchange – Three reasons why this program works!


The First Impressions Community Exchange program (FICE) facilitates an exchange between two communities who are looking for an unbiased “first impression” of a specific area of their community such as a downtown, tourism related infrastructure or an evaluation of their entire community.

Three reasons why FICE works:

  1. It builds volunteer capacity – FICE is a program that pulls together volunteers, typically made up of 6-8 local residents who visit the partnering community, to conduct a “first impressions” assessment. This team is reflective of the people who live in the community, which means the results come from a variety of perspectives.
  2. It provides objective “unbiased” feedback – The objective feedback received from the partnering team can help put plans in motion.
  3. The benefits can last for years – Communities that have participated in a FICE as far back as 2007 have reported that the recommendations they received from their partner community have resulted in positive change that continues to produce results and keep the community engaged.

Examples of long term FICE initiatives:

  • In 2011, a signage and branding strategy was recommended to a community. In 2013 that same community underwent a complete rebranding exercise. To facilitate growth in tourism, they took on a wayfinding initiative which saw new highway signage installed in 2014 and directional signage installed in 2015.
  • A quote from a community that had participated in FICE in 2012: “The first impressions project has had real benefits for our township and continues to be referenced to this day. We are in fact kicking off a project in September (2015) to build public washrooms which was an item highlighted to us as being missing in the feedback from our partner community“.

Increased volunteer capacity, objective feedback and long term benefits are what make FICE attractive to so many communities, 150 have participated to-date! Contact your local Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor for details on how to implement a First Impressions Community Exchange (FICE) program.


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