How It Works

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Community Criteria

Communities defined as rural are considered suitable for the First Impressions program. For information on the definition of rural please visit U.S. Department of Agriculture. Communities with a walkable downtown area with a population 10,000 or less are encouraged to apply for the program.

Community Preparation and Expectations

Prior to applying, assemble a Community Leadership Team (CLT) representing a cross‐section of the community that will be responsible for implementing program recommendations, as well as corresponding and collaborating with the rest of the community.

  • Fully complete and submit the application electronically by the date requested to the Chair of MSU Extension Tourism Team. If your community is selected for participation in First Impressions program, then you will be responsible for:

    • Informing the entire CLT of application success and begin corresponding with MSU Extension Tourism Team. A preliminary meeting is required early in the program process between the CLT and designated leader from MSU Extension’s Tourism Team, which will be to answer questions, set expectations, and get to know each other and know the program.

    • Preparing for a 1/2‐day Community Report Forum (CRF) of results, including arranging all logistics, inviting residents to participate in community meeting and documenting demographics, and setting everything up with the community participants/CLT. The community is responsible for providing these logistics as in‐kind contribution to the program.

    • Keeping all members of the CLT, interested partners, and community informed and engaged

Since this program is a commitment and process that involves many people, the ability to remain flexible is important and necessary for success.

Anticipated Timeline

From the time of application acceptance to program implementation, the First Impressions program is expected to take between 4‐6 months for an individual community. However, this is only an estimate as some aspects of the project(s) may require slightly more time. Special program arrangements are made for regional efforts and will require more time based on the number of TFI programs. In cases such as these, a specialized timeline will be provided with specific dates.

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