FREMANTLE BID has been rebadged as Freo Now and will continue as a volunteer-led voice for small business.
Although funding from Fremantle council ran out last week, chairman Karl Bullers said local businesses had strongly indicated a need for the grassroots services it provided.
“We certainly had the conversation at board level about whether we should wind up the organisation, but we believe that local businesses are going to need our support even more now with the level of construction works and the current economic climate,” Mr Bullers said.
Board member Samantha Reece said Freo Now would continue to fund events such as the long table fundraiser for St Pat’s and Winterworld, although there’s some uncertainty about funding the council said might be made available.
Ms Reece said they’d also be looking to promote Fremantle as an arts incubator.
“We are also looking at plans for a business expo and ongoing business training.”
She says initially the training would be provided free, but if the new model worked and the training could be broadened, it could eventually provide the organisation with an income stream.
But she says the first priority will be convincing existing BID members to move over and to sign up new ones.
They are aiming to get 400 members and to that end will be roping in businesses across greater Fremantle rather than just the CBD.
Former Fremantle councillor Rob Fittock has stepped in as voluntary CEO for three months.
“When council came up with the bid I thought it was a great idea, but it needs time,” he said in reference to the council’s decision to axe its funding this year, which he said came just as the organisation was finding its niche.
“But now it will be totally independent, and not tied down by too many rules,” he says.
by STEVE GRANT