First Impressions Community Exchange Program Re-launch

OMAFRA’s Regional Economic Development Branch (REDB) re-launched its First Impressions Community Exchange (FICE) Program today.  There have been over 200 First Impressions Community Exchanges completed since the Program pilot in 2005.  The FICE is a highly effective and fun community assessment process that provides an opportunity for communities to gain a fresh perspective of how they are seen through the eyes of first-time visitors, potential business investors, or potential new residents.  It helps identify priorities that lead to the development of action plans to improve a community’s ability to attract tourists, investments, businesses and create jobs.

There are three FICE assessment options available for communities; the entire community (full picture), the downtown and tourism.

FICE can be undertaken as a stand-alone project for communities who are seeking information that will help guide future economic development plans, or as a component part that will support a broader strategic plan.

REDB is re-launching and updating the FICE tool in 2016 after a thorough review of the Program.  The re-launch includes the following:

  • New online surveys and printable PDF copies available
  • New technology capabilities make it easier for clients to collect information
  • Updated Resources: Full Picture, Downtown, and Tourism Surveys; FICE Coordinator’s Manual; FICE Program One-Pager, Report Back Templates
  • FICE Coordinator’s Manual available for download

Four-stage process:  Prepare; The Exchange; Report Back and Action Plans; and Implement and Monitor

The re-launch of the First Impressions Community Exchange is an example of how REDB is developing and delivering leading edge economic development resources that support a thriving Rural Ontario.  In southern Ontario, staff from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) can help communities determine whether a FICE will help support broader planning initiatives. Staff from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) provide this service in northern Ontario.

For more information on FICE, contact the AICC at 1-877-424-1300, visit, or contact the Advisor in your region:


Click here for more information on how to access the manual


Robert Humphrey

Economic Development Specialist


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