FREMANTLE’S small business lobby group Freo Now is set to fold at its looming annual general meeting.
Established by Fremantle council in 2013 as the Fremantle BID, its collapse was all-but assured earlier this year when the council redirected funding to its new destination marketing campaign This is Fremantle.
Freo Now was unable to find additional revenue; the Herald understands mining magnate Twiggy Forrest was approached following his investment company’s recent foray into Fremantle’s property market, but that came to nought.
Originally funded by a compulsory differential rate imposed on 700 CBD businesses, once Freo Now became independent of the council only 45 businesses were prepared to stump up the voluntary $100 members fees, says board member Samantha Reece.
But she’s still proud of the group’s achievements, including focusing attention on community safety and increasing police presence, as well as filling empty shops and activating unused spaces with street art.
“The board had a red-hot go at championing the small businesses of Fremantle, and while we had every intention to continue, a lack of funding at the local, state and federal level means it is simply not sustainable” Ms Reece said.
Most of the current board, including chair Karl Bullers, have signalled they will be standing down at the AGM and Ms Reece is not expecting much enthusiasm for others to step in and keep it going.
She expects remaining funds will instead be distributed to benefit Freo businesses as much as possible, including social media spending and gift cards to be auctioned off at the St Pat’s Long Table Dinner later this year.
by JUSTIN STAHL