Rural & Northern Economic Development: Community Planning Tools

First Impressions Community Exchange

As you make plans for the future, it's important to consider where you are today and how you can address opportunities and challenges on the horizon.

First Impressions Community Exchange (FICE) helps communities learn about their strengths and weaknesses as seen through the eyes of a first time visitor. Knowing about these strengths and weaknesses helps those who want to be proactive about the growth of their home communities and who want to make them more vibrant places to live and work. It is a program modeled after one originally developed at the University of Wisconsin and since used by hundreds of communities across Canada and the U.S.

How it works

You and a group of other community volunteers, will be making an anonymous visit to another community in Manitoba that is similar to your home community yet unfamiliar. Your team has agreed to visit this community to provide feedback. Your “first impressions” will be reported back to the exchange community to help determine their community’s strengths, weaknesses, areas of opportunity and ideas for improvement.

The exchange community will also gather a group of volunteers who will make a return visit to your community to provide the same service – an objective opinion of your community’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

The FICE provides an unbiased assessment of a community from volunteers who then receive the same unbiased assessment from the exchange community’s volunteers.

Resources (PDF)

For more information

GET staff can provide advice, path finding and facilitation support to rural communities pursuing local economic development.

Contact the Economic Development Specialists at

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