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INTRODUCTIONS 1 First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool Scott Loveridge, Ph.D. Director, North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.

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Presentation on theme: "INTRODUCTIONS 1 First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool Scott Loveridge, Ph.D. Director, North Central Regional Center for Rural Development."— Presentation transcript:

1 INTRODUCTIONS 1 First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool Scott Loveridge, Ph.D. Director, North Central Regional Center for Rural Development 66 Agriculture Hall Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824 Phone: 517 432-9969 loverid2@msu.edu http://aec.msu.edu/faculty/loveridge.htm

2 Kelly Nix, Ph.D. Assistant Professor West Virginia University Community Resources & Economic Development 702 Knapp Hall / P.O. Box 6031 Morgantown, WV 26506-6031 Direct Line: 304.293.8680 Kelly.Nix@mail.wvu.edu http://cewd.ext.wvu.edu First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 2

3 Myra L. Moss, Associate Professor Heart of Ohio EERA Licking County Extension Office 771 E. Main St. Suite 103, Newark Ohio 43055 Phone: 740.607.5177 Email: moss.63@cfaes.osu.edu www.sustainabledevelopment.osu.edu First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 3

4 Andy Lewis, Professor Contact Information: Community Development Specialist University of Wisconsin Extension 660 W. Washington Ave., Suite 309 Madison, WI 53703 (608) 890-4254 andy.lewis@uwex.edu First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 4

5 “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 5

6 WHAT DO VISITORS REALLY THINK ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY? First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 6

7 ARE WE, WHAT WE SAY WE ARE? First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 7

8 THE SECRET SHOPPER CONCEPT First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 8

9 THE POWER OF PEER LEARNING First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 9

10 THE MODEL Communities are matched, based on location, size, economy, etc. Each community conducts a “secret shopper” visit Reports are exchanged First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 10

11 WHY DO AN EXCHANGE? -Helps focus priorities -Builds case for project funding -Builds relationships with other communities -Cost-effective -Short time commitment -Easy to implement….good first step -Generates excitement -Fun! First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 11

12 REMOVING THE ROSE COLORED GLASSES “All too often people and organizations say – and may honestly believe – that they want to improve. But they go about it the wrong way. Too much self-evaluation and too little outside evaluation may mask real problems and opportunities”. Dubuque Telegraph Herald Editorial on the First Impressions Program 5-15-1991 First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 12

13 COMMUNITY OPTICAL ILLUSIONS Visitors see things that the residents don’t Visitors often see assets where residents see deficits and vice versa First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 13

14 LIST OF WISCONSIN COMMUNITIES First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 14

15 FIRST IMPRESSIONS First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 15

16 ADAPTATIONS/MODIFICATIONS 1 st First Impressions Visit, April 15, 1991 (Fennimore, WI visited Bellevue, Iowa) First Impressions, K-State Research & Extension, Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, 1992 First Impressions for County Fairs, 1993 Community Swap program, University of Illinois Extension, 1993 First Impressions for Heritage Tourism Sites, 1995 First Impressions for State Parks, 1995 Resort Impressions, 1997 First Impressions, West Virginia Extension, ~1997 Best Practices: Recruitable Community Program (RCP), 1998 (Health Care professionals, WV First Impressions for Business, West Virginia Extension, 2000 First Impressions of the U.W. Extension Office, 2002 First Impressions, The Ohio State University Extension, Main Street First Impressions, The Ohio State University Extension, First Impressions, Ontario, Canada (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs), 2005 First Impressions, Alberta, Canada (Agriculture and Rural Development), 2008 Mississippi State Extension, 2006 First Impressions added to the International Municipal Econoimic Development Toolkit (USAID), 2008 First Impressions, Saskatchewan, Canada (Saskatchewan East Enterprise Region), ~2009 First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 16

17 Kelly Nix, Ph.D. Assistant Professor West Virginia University Community Resources & Economic Development 702 Knapp Hall / P.O. Box 6031 Morgantown, WV 26506-6031 Direct Line: 304.293.8680 Kelly.Nix@mail.wvu.edu http://cewd.ext.wvu.edu First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 17

18 PAST EVALUATIONS University of Wisconsin (1992) West Virginia University (2000) First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 18

19 WVU LONG-TERM IMPACT EVALUATION WVU Program Background Evaluation Purpose, Goal and Objectives First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 19

20 METHODOLOGY First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 20

21 DATA COLLECTION PROCESS Data Collection – telephone survey Survey participants – First Impressions community contact Response rate – 56% First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 21

22 SURVEY QUESTIONS Overall, do you believe the First Impressions Program had a beneficial impact on your community? [Yes, No] As a result of the First Impressions Program, has the general condition of your community… [Improved, Not Improved, Unknown] Out of the program suggestions that were made about your community, which ones have directly led to community improvements? First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 22

23 SURVEY QUESTIONS CONT. Has the First Impressions Program impacted your community in terms of other improvements? Were there barriers that prevented you from implementing the suggestions? In addition to the First Impressions Program, what other programs has your community been engaged with? First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 23

24 OVERALL RESULTS Beneficial impacts were made as a result of participation – 89% General condition of their community improved – 67% First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 24

25 PROGRAM SUGGESTIONS IMPLEMENTED BY COMMUNITIES FrequencyPercent Improved Signage 1056% Beautification 1056% Historic Preservation / Tourism Promotion 844% Community Recreation 844% Infrastructure Improvements 739% Business Recruitment 633% Increased Lodging 528% Increased Partnerships 422% Other 317% No Program Suggestions Implemented 211% First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 25

26 PROGRAM BARRIERS Limited ability to carry out improvements – 89% Money and Resources – 72% Human Capital and Vision – 28% Turnover in Government Leadership – 11% First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 26

27 OVERCOME BARRIERS Engaging in partnerships and other programs Actively seek grants First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 27

28 IMPLICATIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS Several communities looked inward and identified additional areas for improvement; Report findings were used to secure monetary resources; New partnerships were formed at the state and regional levels; Broader community participation in decision making at the local level was noticeable. First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 28

29 Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community. -Anthony Burgess First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 29

30 Myra L. Moss, Associate Professor Heart of Ohio EERA Licking County Extension Office 771 E. Main St. Suite 103, Newark Ohio 43055 Phone: 740.607.5177 Email: moss.63@cfaes.osu.edu www.sustainabledevelopment.osu.edu First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 30

31 WHAT IS YOUR COMMUNITY’S IMAGE? The message you intend to send… The message you do send! First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 31

32 FIRST IMPRESSIONS… Provides first time visitor ’ s view of community to… Assess effectiveness of local planning efforts Identify what needs to be improved Build on what is working well Gather unbiased input into planning process First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 32

33 OHIO’S FIRST IMPRESSIONS PROGRAMS Community Downtown/Main Street Byways & Tourism Corridors First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 33

34 OHIO’S EXPERIENCE… Programs to date: 29 Communities 6 Main Streets 2 Byways First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 34

35 FIRST IMPRESSIONS COMMUNITY PROFILES… Average community size: 8,800 Smallest: 922; Largest: 36,494 County seats: 46% Chamber involvement: 70% Travel or CVB involvement:15% Extension Partnership: 73% First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 35

36 FIRST IMPRESSIONS PROCESS Match similar communities Secure local sponsors Identify and train volunteer visitors Conduct visit and complete survey Produce final report Present report to matched community First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 36

37 FINDING #1: READINESS Communities often do not send the message that they intend to send. Either the feature or image is not clearly stated or some other feature distracts from the intended message. First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 37

38 COMMUNITY READINESS 73% of communities had Tourism as a major economic development strategy, but… Only 63% of those communities had a clear idea of the message that they wanted to send, and… Only 11% of those communities were successful in sending the message that they intended to send First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 38

39 Wonderful Swiss Theme Most of us had no problem finding the business section of town quickly. We instantly had an urge to shop and eat. We were all very impressed with the unity and beauty of the village. First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 39

40 FINDING #2: READINESS Directional and informational signage is unclear and/or confusing. This frustrates the visitor, makes it easy to miss important features and leaves, at best, a cluttered impression. First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 40

41 COMMUNITY READINESS 95% of communities had insufficient and/or confusing directional and informational signage Made it difficult to find key community features and amenities, such as schools, parks and industrial parks 65% of communities had unattractive signage – often at major entrances First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 41

42 WHAT? WHERE? We were a little confused by some of the signage. Here’s an example of what we found. First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 42

43 FINDING #3: READINESS Local awareness of unique assets and resident’s role as ambassador is often not understood. First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 43

44 COMMUNITY READINESS Of the 32 community visits, very few visitation teams encountered knowledgeable, friendly and positive residents Businesses often visit unannounced to get a feel for the community as a place to do and locate a business. The hospitality and knowledge of local people, and friendliness to strangers, leaves a lasting impression. First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 44

45 Ambassadors Folks on the street and shop owners were generally more than eager to offer suggestions. We suggest that you consider producing a visitor’s guide offering ideas to visitors. You offer many singular attractions in the area such as the Winery, Cheese House, Bulk Food Store, Fabulous Restaurants, Shopping, Brickyard, Furniture Store, and a Gateway to Amish Country. We felt that you could direct more traffic to each other if you united and displayed a common brochure, map, poster, or signage of things to do while in Sugarcreek. First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 45

46 NEXT STEPS… Wisconsin version of the Site Coordinator’s Guide, and Team Members Guide books are available via download at: http://blogs.ces.uwex.edu/cced/2012/08/04/first- impressions-program-2/ or, http://tinyurl.com/fimpressions West Virginia http://cred.ext.wvu.edu/programs/first_impressions Ohio State http://comdev.osu.edu/node/269 First Impressions: A Time Tested Community Assessment Tool 46


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