Mayor Chris Frye: Shifting Perceptions About a Rust Belt City

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This week’s Bottom-Up Revolution podcast features Mayor Chris Frye, who’s been leading the city of New Castle, Pennsylvania, since January 2020. Before running for mayor, his background wasn’t in politics but in social work and community service. He’s a husband and father of three—and he’s utterly dedicated to helping his city grow stronger. He’s also New Castle’s first black mayor, and a Republican.

New Castle, as you’ll learn from Mayor Frye, is a city going through the same challenges of economic downturn, disinvestment and neglect that so many cities in the Rust Belt and Midwest have encountered during the last several decades.

However, like our guest last week (De’Amon Harges), Mayor Frye is focused on seeing the assets and gifts in his city, not just the problems. He knows that the work of revitalization is not merely about fixing up old buildings or bringing jobs back, but about changing negative perceptions. He wants residents and outsiders to see New Castle, not as a place of blight, poverty, or crime, but as a beautiful city that can thrive and is thriving.

At the end of our conversation, Mayor Frye shares his thoughts for other leaders whose cities may be in a similar economic situation. One piece of advice? “Stay hopeful, and don’t become complacent.”

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