Communities in Michigan continue to receive perspectives of visitors to improve tourism and quality of life

Michigan State University Extension tourism educators begin working two more communities committed to taking action and making improvements in their communities based on the strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of first-time visitors.

Michigan State University Extension’s First Impressions: Tourism Assessment (FIT) program kicks off tourism assessments in 2019 with two more communities interested in learning about their strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of first-time visitors while two previously-selected communities from 2018 finish the program.

The City of St. Clair (St. Clair County) and the City of Laingsburg (Shiawassee County) were selected to participate in the program during 2019 after Michigan State University Extension tourism educator, Andy Northrop, received and reviewed their applications. Both communities will participate in the FIT program over the course of ten months. The FIT program continues for its third year in row to be sponsored by Prosperity Region 6 - a seven county partnership comprised of St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Lapeer, Genesee, and Shiawassee Counties.  

While both communities begin the initial phase of the FIT program, two communities, also part of the same Prosperity Region partnership, are currently in the final phase of completing the FIT program. Marine City (St. Clair County) and Cass City (Tuscola County) were selected in early 2018 for the statewide program and are currently in the final phase where results are shared in a public form. Both communities will complete the tourism assessment program by early March (2019) and begin their next steps of implementation based on suggestions from their final report.

In 2017, Michigan State University Extension tourism educators partnered with Prosperity Region 6 to offer four First Impressions: Tourism Assessments (FIT) to four separate communities during 2017.The Village of Elkton and the Village of Sebewaing (Huron County), Imlay City (Lapeer

County), and the City of Marlette (Sanilac County) worked directly with MSU Extension tourism educators one-on-one to accomplish the FIT program. The partnership led to each community be awarded $2,000 dollars from Prosperity Region 6 to implement improvements of their choice based on the results from FIT. The same partnership continued in 2018 allowed for Marine City and Cass City to participate in FIT and for St. Clair and Laingsburg to as well in 2019.

FIT is a comprehensive community assessment conducted by unannounced visitors to a host community positioned to lead development based on the program results. FIT involves developing a community leadership team (CLT), assessing the host community, sharing the results in a community forum open to all, and providing suggestions to drive community action. Overall, FIT helps communities learn about their strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of first-time visitors. The results of FIT can spawn local leadership, strengthen community vitality, and form the basis for future development.

Communities interested in learning more about Michigan State University Extension’s First Impressions: Tourism Assessment program can read further by visiting our website and searching FIT articles.

Read about How to become a FIT community.

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