By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
IUKA – Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute provided perspective for Iuka’s improvement efforts during a feedback session at City Hall last week.
About a dozen city officials, including Mayor Jackie Bryant and Aldermen Martha Biggs, John Kent and Joel Robertson, and community activists heard the presentation from Dr. Joe Fratesi on behalf of the First Impressions program, a part of the Mississippi Community Action Project.
“Do first impressions matter?” Fratesi asked. “To some degree we are all in sales, so first impressions do matter.”
The First Impressions program helps identify communities’ assets as well as negatives, then develop priorities for how to build on their best qualities.
A three-member team that includes Lee Ann Robertson, Charles Swimmer and Gary Phillips was appointed by the city to represent Iuka with the Mississippi Community Action Project.
A site visit team representing First Impressions visited Iuka and gave written comments on positives and negatives.
Fratesi pointed out many areas that are particularly good, such as people, parks, recreational amenities, the historic downtown, the hospital and more. Challenges he noted included, among other things, a need for more landscaping in commercial areas.
After learning of the work the Iuka Development and Economic Association – IDEA – group has done and projects eyed for the future, Fratesi noted how important it is for private initiatives to go hand in hand with government projects.
“There are limited resources, so it’s important to use different strategies to foster community engagement, involvement and pride,” he said. “You want to find a common vision.”