First Impressions–Community Evaluation Programs

Princeton Wisconsin First Impressions Visit by Cuba City
Princeton, Wisconsin Streetscape During a 2015 First Impressions Visit by a Team from Cuba City, Wisconsin
Sometimes, the best view of your community starts with what an outside visitor who is unfamiliar with the community—seeing your community through their first impression.

The First Impression Program pairs two, similar communities in geographically separate areas. Each community sends a team to the other community for a one-day, secret shopper-type evaluation of the other community. The teams then complete a comprehensive evaluation.  The team uses the evaluation to develop an insightful report describing the team’s “first impressions” of the community including:

  • downtown development,
  • customer service,
  • retail shops,
  • tourism venues,
  • local foods,
  • public transportation,
  • infrastructure,
  • housing, and
  • many other characteristics of the community.

The benefit? Each community gains deep insights into its own community through the eyes of an outside visitor. Interestingly, each community also gains insights into how to think about its own community through its experience evaluating another community.

Ideally, the First Impressions leads to a Community Placemaking plan to help provide a blueprint for future community development and community vitality.

First Impressions Projects in Grant County


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