Amory community sees potential of its town through MSU’s First Impressions study

AMORY – A meeting was held at the East Amory Community Center on Jan. 10 to reveal the findings of the First Impressions study done on the city through the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development at Mississippi State.
The First Impressions program is designed to help communities assess themselves by capturing the thoughts and observation of visitors on their first visit to a community.
“I feel these findings can help us develop a strategic plan for our future,” said Amory Main Street Manager Lorie Bryant.
Community Development Director Dr. Joe Fratesi led the informal presentation and commended those citizens who attended.
“This is an opportunity for people who aren’t normally together to talk about something you rarely talk about – your town,” Fratesi said.
The team that participated in the study judged the city based on five minute impressions in the following categories: entrances, downtown, commercial districts and industrial areas.
The team commented that the entrances were “typical, rural Mississippi landscapes,” and spoke highly of the Tenn-Tom Waterway.
Comments about Amory’s commercial district focused mainly on signage and utility lines.
“The team felt that the number of temporary signs was out of control and noticed that 40 percent of them don’t even have anything on them. There is also an over-abundance of utility lines,” Fratesi said.
Fratesi also stated that the team was very impressed with the size of the commercial district, although its eastern end is in much better shape than the western end.
Some ideas and suggestions for the commercial district included using better materials due to the dated look of the metal buildings, as well as making the area greener.
The team felt that the historic homes on Main Street that are being used as businesses are an attractive entryway into the downtown area and the mural looked nice.
Even though the awnings over the downtown sidewalks provide continued coverage, the team thought that the look was dated and detracted from the architecture present.
The team agreed that the parking downtown was good and much larger than expected, but some of the banner-style signage was unattractive.
Fratesi suggested removing the slipcovers from the downtown Main Street buildings.
“Your downtown needs to be a unique place. Remove the slipcovers from the front of the buildings to reveal the beautiful architecture.”
To increase tourism, the team suggested capitalizing on the waterway and the Gilmore Museum.
According to the team, some of the challenges facing the city include Main Street not having an evening presence and the need for more citizen engagement.
Some positives included the close proximity to Tupelo, the Tenn-Tom Waterway, the Gilmore Foundation and the people.
The observations of the team are recorded and compiled into a written report so that the community can evaluate and prioritize both short- and long-term goals for the city.