2020 Year in Review: A Letter to the Network

January 8, 2021 | 2020 Year in Review: A Letter to the Network | By: Patrice Frey, President & CEO, NMSC | 

Main Street America Network, 

Unfortunately, this week – like so many in recent memory – has brought with it renewed national anguish, with the violent insurrection at the United States Capitol. We join with our parent organization, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in condemning this act in the strongest possible terms and standing with the causes of peace and justice. 

The early days of a new year usually carry with them a feeling of hope and anticipation as we think back on what has passed and what is to come. Even amidst the tumult of the last 48 hours – or maybe because of it – I believe this is an important moment to stop and reflect on what we’ve been through together these last 12 months. How are we to ‘make sense’ of 2020, and given 2021 thus far, how do we prepare ourselves for what’s to come? 

The COVID-19 pandemic will forever define 2020. The ensuing public health crisis, with its far-reaching effects on individuals and families, small businesses, and the economy has left a permanent mark on all of us. The killing of George Floyd at the hands of police and the subsequent nationwide protests also brought about a long overdue reckoning with issues of racial justice that has deeply impacted all levels of society. 2020 changed us in ways that will probably take years to fully unpack. 

While I won’t attempt too much of that ‘unpacking’ here today, I am struck by several key ways in which the events of 2020 reshaped our work. It was an incredibly difficult year, and yet by many counts, the Main Street movement has proved itself more resilient and relevant than ever. 

When the pandemic hit the U.S. in full force last March, local Main Street leaders sprang into action and addressed the dire situation head-on, rallying to support local businesses. Despite the struggles, loses, and economic uncertainty we faced over the days, weeks, and months that followed, you did not give up in your effort to support your communities. I will forever remember the commitment and sense of purpose that I witnessed and continue to witness of Main Streeters all over the country.

And in the midst of the protests and demonstrations for racial justice this summer, many Main Street programs embraced the imperative to act and took on a leadership role around issues of racial justice, equity, and belonging. As a leader myself, that was – and continues to be – an impetus to reflect and act on that imperative. 

I am immensely proud of our team here at Main Street America, and you – the individuals, organizations, companies, and small businesses – that make up the Main Street movement. Before closing the chapter fully on 2020, I want to share some of last year’s milestones with you. You can see our ‘2020 in Review’ highlights here.  

And looking ahead to 2021, I remain optimistic that we have what it takes to meet the moment during what I hope will be a year of rebuilding and renewal.

Happy New Year,

Patrice Frey
President & CEO