The future is Now

THE Fremantle Business Improvement District relaunched itself as Freo Now last Friday (July 27).

The new moniker and logo were unveiled in front of a packed room of local business people, property owners, council members and curious onlookers lured to chairman Karl Bullers’ National Hotel with the offer of a free drink.

Despite the name change, fresh look, and crisp white polo shirts, Freo Now will continue the work it was doing as Fremantle BID.

In his sales pitch to the audience, Mr Bullers said he wanted to introduce a paid membership of $2 a week for businesses, and focus on business development outside of the CBD.

“The shackles are off,” Mr Bullers told the crowd.

“We are no longer constrained by area, and we only have one stakeholder to answer to – you, hopefully, our new members.”

Freo Now has set its sights on federal funding, but will continue to rely on Fremantle council for smaller expenses like street closures for the long table dinner on High Street.

• Louise and Glen Cowans, and Mark Douglas at the launch of Freo Now. Photo by Kavi Guppta

Federal funding

The launch event lacked any real drive to sign up members on the spot, and there was little detail on how Freo Now would support businesses outside of existing events.

At times it felt like an excuse for a grumble about the BID losing its council funding earlier this year.

The city decided to redirect the $360,000 in differential rates paid out annually by CBD business owners – funding The Fremantle BID since 2012 – to a new Fremantle destination marketing program.

“They’ll be doing a mass marketing campaign to drive people into the area,” said Samantha Reece, a Freo Now board member.

“You can bring people into the area, but if there’s nowhere to shop, it’s kind of a waste of money.”

Freo Now aims to have no empty shopfronts in the city by 2021.

“BID didn’t fill shops,” Ms Reece admitted.

“It helped you with advocacy, with parking issues and issues with council.

“We want to help you keep thriving so when King’s Square is finished, you can enjoy the fruits of your labour.”

The sentiment of the night was “local businesses are hurting.”

by KAVI GUPPTA

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