Huron County ensuring strong communities 2018-19

MSU Extension understands that building civic engagement and healthy economic structures leads to greater opportunities and stronger communities.

When you support MSU Extension, participants learn how to implement best practices in good governance that keeps communities solvent, productive and engaged; learn effective conflict management skills that help leaders and residents work collaboratively on complex issues; and engage youth leaders in decision-making. The First Impressions program helps communities realize their potential for community tourism. All of these outcomes help lower the cost of governmental services and lead to personal and community stability, strong neighborhoods and safe communities.

First Impressions Program

First Impressions (FI) Program — was developed to help communities learn about their existing strengths and weaknesses as seen through the eyes of first-time visitors. The FI program has been used to help communities across the U.S. and Canada inform economic initiatives or further develop community goals. MSU Extension has adapted this program, adding a tourism focus to meet the needs of Michigan communities. MSU Extension’s First Impressions: Assessing Your Community for Tourism (FIT) is a unique version of FI for our state. Following are the results of MSU Extension’s FIT program in two Huron County communities.

FIT the Village of Elkton

The Village of Elkton — was visited by four first-time unannounced visitors. Each traveled individually to the village and recorded his or her experiences conducting visitor research, maneuvering through and around Elkton visiting stores, restaurants, outdoor spaces and additional tourism-related sites. Some of the points that came from these visits include:

  • Downtown Development Authority re-engaged and launching projects after a four year absence.
  • Local artists engaged for mural paintings
  • Website redesigned and promos announced
  • Businesses engaged for better service
  • Youth/business entrepreneurship program initiated

FIT the Village of Sebewaing

The Village of Sebewaing — was visited by four first-time unannounced visitors. It was determined by these visitors that Sebewaing has some wonderful assets including a marina, historical museum, unique architecture and waterways meandering through a walkable and historical downtown and residential areas. The assets and experiences identified by the four visitors can serve as a base from which to capitalize and strengthen Sebewaing’s image and assets for future visitors. Items to come from the data submitted by these visitors was:

  • Established “Historical River District”
  • Launched new farmers market
  • Businesses engaged for better service
  • Recreation Plan updated after five years in partnership with MSU Urban Planning Program
  • Kayak trail signage (tentative)
  • Grant dollars secured for future projects

Food Council in Michigan’s Thumb Area 

Food Council in Huron County — The five District 10 counties including St. Clair, Lapeer Tuscola, Sanilac, and Huron counties will be represented by a food policy council beginning the fall of 2018. The purpose of the council initially will be to develop a thorough understanding of what the food system looks like in the greater Thumb area both from a consumer and producer perspective. The food system is a large dynamic web of networks represented by both private and public sector circles. It further represents a large portion of economic activity within the district geographic area and internationally.

Additionally, the council will evaluate what best strategies will assist in the promotion of a food system that provides for the food needs of those who are secure and insecure. To this end, the council will develop and sponsor projects, programs and other initiatives that provide education to the greater public and promote changes in practices with stakeholders and policies with elected officials that support the larger food system.

The council received a $3,000 grant from the Michigan Local Food Policy Council Network in June of 2018. Each county will have designated representatives to serve on the council beginning in September 2018.

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