First Impressions

Welcome to First Impressions!  This is a research-based educational experience through the University of Wisconsin – Extension to assess economic development opportunities and improvement strategies.  First Impressions: Community Assessment and Improvement provides a unique perspective of a community through a structured learning opportunity–and it’s a lot of fun, too!

UW-Extension partnered with Young Leaders In Kenosha (YLink) and Sheboygan’s Coastal Connections to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about the appeal of Kenosha and Sheboygan as a place to live and work.

Premise:  Communities have difficulties viewing their surroundings as outsiders do; views are skewed by over-familiarization, lack of differing perspectives and expectations, and a reluctance to be completely honest when dealing with difficult issues (i.e., the appearance of buildings, young talent retention, etc). We wanted to know what “outsiders” think of our community so we invited Sheboygan volunteers to come to Kenosha… in return, we took a group of Kenoshan young professionals to Sheboygan.  Incognito.

Want to learn more? View the online assessment tool to get a feel for the questions that the volunteers answered during their visit to their partner community!  We collected all this feedback and compiled reports with the findings.

What was learned? Thanks to the involvement of two teams of committed volunteers, both Sheboygan and Kenosha gained valuable insights into the appeal of their communities to first time visitors.  Here’s a Summary of Results about Kenosha that includes strategy recommendations.  Or see this Complete Report.

Special thanks to our sponsor(s):  Gateway Capture logo EC_footer

**This community improvement program was created as a compilation of ideas, experiences and thoughts of two people (Andy Lewis and James Schneider) who focused on improving the communities of Grant County Wisconsin. Since that time, it has been used by hundreds of communities as a tool for assessing the perceptions of visitors. Print materials for users of the program were updated in 2007 and 2014, 2015.

For More Information:  


Amy Greil, Community, Natural Resource and Economic Development Educator
University WI-Extension

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