What is the “First Impression” from outside visitors of your community?

I-69 Thumb region partners with MSU Extension a second time for another round of tourism assessments of communities conducted through the eyes of first-time visitors.

May 31, 2018 - Author: Andy Northrop, Michigan State University Extension

Find out how first time visitors view your community through the First Impressions: Assessing your community for tourism (FIT) with Michigan State University Extension and receive funding to implement suggestions and strategies to improve visitor experiences and quality of life for residents through the I‐69 Thumb Region.

In 2017, the I-69 Thumb Region partnered with Michigan State University Extension tourism faculty to conduct four FIT programs with four communities: Elkton, Imlay City, Marlette, and Sebewaing. After incredible success with all four communities taking steps to improve visitor experiences and quality of life for residents, the Thumb Region decided to offer the program again.

This year, two communities have the opportunity to apply and be selected for FIT. Upon successful completion of building a community leadership team, applying and being selected, each community will begin the FIT program. After going through the FIT program, successful communities will learn how first-time visitors view their community by receiving those results in an open forum and will then be eligible to receive a $2,000 implementation grant dollars to address suggestions made from the program. The I-69 Thumb Region provides implementation dollars and is not requiring a match for this program this year nor did they last year. 

Who is eligible to apply?

Local Units of Government that:

  • Are located in one of the I‐69 Thumb Region counties (Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Tuscola)
  • Have a population of 10,000 or less
  • Can form a community leadership team (CLT) and stay committed through the entire Michigan State University Extension FIT process and the I-69 Thumb Region requirements 
  • Will plan and coordinate a community report forum open to all

Program Benefits?

  • Learn about existing strengths and weaknesses of your community from an outsider’s perspective
  • Provide an opportunity to organize community leaders and residents around feedback
  • List of action items that can improve the quality of life of residents and improve visitors’ perception
  • Grant dollars to implement action items from I-69 Thumb Region (These dollars do not come from MSU Extension.)

Implementation Funding Requirements

  • Memorandum of Agreement will be executed with successful applicants
  • Use of funds must be pre‐approved
  • Invoices, copies of checks, etc. will be required for reimbursement
  • Reporting requirements may include progress reports, meetings and/or presentations

More Information

You can learn more and/or download Tourism First Impressions Application-I-69 Thumb Region

Communities outside of I-69 Thumb Region that are interested in FIT can learn more about how to become a FIT community here.

Complete the attached application and return to Andy Northrop, MSU Extension Tourism Team Chair at northro5@anr.msu.edu.

Contact Anna Pinter, GLS Region V, Planner III with questions or for assistance completing the application at apinter@co.genesee.mi.us or 810‐257‐3010.

Tags: business, community, economic development, family, livable communities, msu extension, tourism


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