“To sell real estate you’ve got to have curb appeal! Our towns need to be doing the same thing. They’ve only got one chance to make a first impression,” Leland Speed told me several years ago at one of our too infrequent lunches. Leland, having come from the real estate industry, fully understood the importance of making a great first impression upon anyone looking at your community, whether it was a tourist, retiree, professional or Fortune 500 company looking to locate a new plant.
Two years ago Mississippi State University (MSU) set up a Community Action Team, headed by Virgil Culver, to utilize the expertise and resources of MSU’s faculty and students in concert with local citizens to address the needs of the many MS communities. One of their main programs is First Impressions, a program designed to provide communities with an unbiased summary of its strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of a first-time visitor.
Virgil told me, “It is a program that ties together our roots in extension with MSU. Andy Lewis from Wisconsin first developed the idea and it is now being done in states like OH, KS, WV and others.”
First Impressions descends upon a town unannounced with six or eight people. After doing a thorough study, Virgil told me, “We give them a full report and do a community wide presentation. We hope to get some issues on the table and start to work cooperatively on some of them.
The Community Action Team has completed over 50 studies in the past two years and has another ten in the pipeline to do.
Do you know what the first impression is of new people to your town?