July 7, 2022

Nine Years at Main Street: Lessons and Reflections from Patrice Frey

This week Patrice Frey stepped down from her role as the president and CEO of the Main Street America (MSA). For nine years, Frey brought leadership, creative energy, and dedication to MSA's work of supporting approximately 1,800 members to build stronger communities across the United States. Prior to working with MSA, Frey served as the National Trust for Historic Preservation's director of sustainability leading the work of the Preservation Green Lab (now the Research and Policy Lab).

As a farewell, Frey penned a short note and shared her talk "Nine Years at Main Street: Lessons and Reflections" from her keynote speech at Main Street Now, which took place in May 2022 in Richmond, Virginia. You can read the full presentation at the previous link, but we at Preservation Leadership Forum curated a few quotes for you below. We are thankful to have had such a leader as Patrice Frey at Main Street America, and wish her much luck in her future endeavors!

Main Street *Is* Economic Development: "The quality of the community is what attracts and retains jobs. The quality of the community is what attracts visitors. And Main Street is in the quality-of-life business."

Ask for What You Need: "As nonprofit leaders, we often try to “make do” with what we’ve got or what we’re offered, which is almost never equal to what we need to effectively do our jobs. I’ve tried to be more mindful about asking for what is needed to succeed, what we as an organization must have to be effective."

Re-evaluate Your Events: "Your time as a Main Street leader is your most valuable resource. Guard it fiercely."

Remember the 20-60-20 Rule of Change Management: "Your job is not to make 100 percent of people happy, or 100 percent of people comfortable. Your job is to lead the 80 percent. Your job is to lead change."

Be the Connector: "If we are to create a downtown or district in which commerce thrives, Main Street leaders increasingly must be able to support their small business owners—or would-be entrepreneurs—with the resources needed to navigate this thicket of questions and uncertainty. "

Make All Welcome: "While building a truly equitable and inclusive Main Street takes a lot of collective effort and intention, there is important work going on in our in our network to support Main Streets that points to a path forward."

Whatever You’re Doing on Housing, Double It: "This country faces the interrelated crises of housing affordability and supply—our recent survey results show that availability of housing downtown for Main Street Directors is a major issue, with 87 percent reporting that they were concerned about the state of housing in their Main Street districts....Main Street leaders have a real opportunity to lead on this issue."

Embrace Electric: "I can’t emphasize this enough; if I was leading a small-town Main Street, I would be focusing on collaborating with state and local partners to secure a charging station downtown—this is a boon to local Main Streets, and a boon to local economies. "

Build your Advocacy Muscle: "Main Street isn’t a red state issue. It’s not a blue state issue. Everyone has a stake in the health of their downtown and district."

Make sure to read the full talk and view the PowerPoint on www.mainstreet.org

Patrice Frey is the former president and CEO of Main Street America (MSA).

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