First Impressions

First Impressions

Ever wonder what people visiting your town think? First impressions are important as the community works to improve the overall quality of life and uncover its sense of place.

About the Program

First Impressions is a Stennis Institute program that allows you to see your community through the eyes of a first-time visitor. A volunteer visitation team agrees to make the visit. The team members are from other areas with similar characteristics as your community. University personnel interested in community development, community and economic developers, chamber of commerce officials, Mississippi Main Street Association personnel, and others are common visitation team members.

These unannounced visitors explore your community’s residential, retail, and industrial areas; schools; local government entities; and other points of interest. Visitors follow clear guidelines as they evaluate appearances, access to services, friendliness, and other community attributes. 

Process and Timeline

First Impressions Process

Once an application is received, Stennis Institute staff will work with the applicant and the local action team to schedule various FI Events. 


The summary of the First Impressions team visit will include: 

  • The general impressions and observations noted by the visiting team
  • A summary of the debrief session between the FI visiting team and the local action team
  • A pdf copy of the community presentation 
  • A Project Mapping summary that outlines the local government project identified and short-term implementation steps delivered 
  • An electric copy of all photos taken during the team visit

Cost of the Program

The cost of the program varies depending on the population of the community and how the community chooses to schedule the event. For additional information regarding current program fees, please contact the Stennis Institute.



Stennis Institute
(662) 325-3328