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.
Economic Development Specialist