The Fremantle Business Improvement District-BID will be extended by another three years, but subject to yearly performance criteria.
The City of Fremantle charges CBD businesses an additional differential ‘city centre commercial rate’ and BID will receive $ 356,394.00 for the next financial year to promote and assist inner city traders.
I believe the real issue for BID is to get substantial additional funding because nearly two-third of the money they receive from Fremantle City goes to paying staff, office rent and outgoings, so not much is left to support our traders.
It will have to be seen if private operators are willing to back BID with additional funding, because if not the future of BID is going to be shaky.
The decision to continue with the Fremantle BID-Business Improvement District was deferred on Wednesday evening by the City of Fremantle’s Finance, Policy and Legislation Committee because members were not convinced that BID has found its niche yet, in what Chair Andrew Sullivan called the Holy Trinity of BID, the Chamber of Commerce and the CoF. It had five years to find that focus.
New BID CEO Tim Milsom told the Councillors about plans for new events, markets, getting external funding etc. but the elected members questioned if it should be BID’s role to organise events or rather to connect traders better with events the city and outside organisations already put up.
How do businesses, especially retailers, get to benefit from events and what are the programs, outcomes and benefits councillors asked.
Olwyn Williams, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce spoke against extending the BID contract for another three years.
It was questioned how effective and successful BID could be when relying on a handful of volunteers and staff.
BID has been successful with running treasure hunts during school holidays which attract large numbers of children with parents who stay in Fremantle long, discover new businesses and often come back a second day to do the whole list.
For example the Sculpture@Bathers show could have a fringe events where artists who are not invited to the main show on Bathers Beach exhibit their sculptures in the windows of shops all over Fremantle and walking tours to view them could be organised by BID. Retailers could offer specials to people who come to events and tap into social media more and better.
For BID to want to organise new markets they should realise that there are already too many markets around Perth according to unhappy stall holders. The Friday night market at Princess May Market failed to attract new people and the Fremantle and E Shed markets, and the very successful South Beach food market and Growers Green farmers market cater for weekend visitors already.
The challenge for BID, the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fremantle is to attract visitors to Fremantle at the start of the week. Freo is doing okay on Fridays and quite well on Saturdays and Sundays, but needs to get busier the first four days of the week. What can be organised to turn Freo from a weekend destination into an all week one?
I think the City will extend BID but it would require that the organisation deeply contemplates its role and find its focus because it has not been able to do that in BID’s first disappointing five years.
If my information is right I understand BID bought the artwork in front of Bathers Beach House and that is definitely not their role.
It should not be up to the CoF to come up with new ideas for BID because the concept is that this independent organisation would cut through red tape and connect with traders. If BID has a lack of concept, focus and ideas than the City’s marketing and economic development department might as well do it in house an use the $ 350,000.00 a year BID has been getting the last five years.
I hear there will be fantastic news for the Fremantle business community when the former CEO of the Chamber of Commerce will be signed up as the new CEO of the Fremantle BID-Business Improvement District.
Unlike other FCoC heads the ever-smiling Milsom hardly ever complained about Fremantle council but with his can do attitude proactively initiated events to the benefit of everyone in Freo.
I fondly remember when Milsom suggested to have an Indonesian show at the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Market and he found out on the Saturday morning that the musicians had arrived but without instruments. No worries for Milsom who borrowed, begged and hired the instruments required and the evening was a great success.
That is the kind of positive problem solving attitude that Fremantle needs, so welcome back Tim. I am delighted!
Come on kids, take your parents and grand parents out for kind of treasure hunt around Fremantle and win some great prizes
It is on from January 14-29 and you can spread it over 2-3 days if you can’t get it all done in one day.
The Fremantle BID, Business Improvement Business group lives another day thanks to a lifeline given to it with an amendment by Deputy Mayor Dave Coggin that stopped the outright ‘Officer’s recommendation’ rejection of BID’s application to renew it’s contract with the City of Fremantle for another five years.
The consensus among the FPOL Committee on Wednesday was that BID can survive if there is a stronger collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and CoF and if Council gives BID more focussed directions on what its role is and what is expected of the group.
There were also strong expectations for BID to become more autonomous financially and not solely rely on funding from the City. Councillors expressed they wanted BID to find alternative financial support.
BID’s plans were considered too widespread and lacked focus, but a positive is that the group has attracted nearly 400 members out of an estimated eligible 600 businesses in the CBD, which was seen as an indication that BID has the support of the business community.
The FPOL committee of Fremantle Council will on Wednesday deliberate if it will extend the BID-Business Improvement District that was set up four years ago.
BID has applied for an extension of five years where it would continue to receive the differential rates the CoF charges CBD businesses which are members of BID, but the officer’s recommendation is not to do so and for the City of Fremantle to allocate that money to a few main events that will attract more visitors to Fremantle during the off season period where retailers and the hospitality industry struggle to stay afloat.
Even at the start of BID, when I was a member of the inaugural board, there was concern that staff costs were taking up too much of the allocated money and that there was not much left to significantly support and promote local businesses.
BID has been successful in my opinion with small things like treasure hunts during school holidays, but has failed to make a major impact. BID did not offer substantially different ideas to create a tangible difference that could not be handled in-house at the City’s economic development and marketing department.
It might be better to have a small BID-like committee of business people and CoF staff that will become responsible for how the differential rate will be spent.
What Fremantle businesses need most is for the city to become a seven day a week shopping destination instead of just a weekend attraction. I believe that is where the differential rate money should be allocated to.
Kim Low, the executive manager of the Fremantle BID(Business Improvement District) has resigned from the position immediately, due to the burden of commuting to Herron near Bunbury.
Kim was at BID from the start of the organisation and here is what she had to say about the achievements of the last two years:
“I am very proud of what the BID has been able to achieve over its first two years. From establishing a member driven company to all the projects (up -lighting of High St West, planter boxes, musical chimes, pedestrian counters, Tuesday tunes, pirates day, carols, Arthur Grady Day, customer service surveys, Shop Watch, workshops and the funding of more than 20 new projects and events through the BID’s grants program). The next major BID project the new Market St Piazza entertainment area has been developed over the past year and will launch early next year. The BID’s first fund raising effort –Fremantle branded reusable bags will be coming your way soon as well.
Of more importance though has been the enthusiasm and engagement demonstrated through the BID’s street activation groups. Starting on Friday, 28 November at Pioneer Park you will see the first of these efforts in action at the Inside Out Day. Over the coming months you will see similar grass roots projects roll out around the City as a way to animate the City and get customers to linger longer. Hopefully this will create ideas and more groups will form and take on projects.”
I wish Kim all the very best and thank her for all the work she has done for Fremantle.