“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?” O’ the Places You Will Go – Dr Seuss

The launch of the Tourism WA ‘Adventure Awaits’ campaign this week is a timely reminder of the sense of anticipation I think we are all feeling about life gradually stepping back towards normality here in WA.

At the Chamber we are preparing to open our doors, and our export desk, back up to normal working hours from Monday 18 May 2020.

This shift to re-open our office space comes off a record week for the Chamber – with a total of 65 members and participants tuning into our first live Facebook feed “Set the Month in Motion” on budgeting in the eye of the storm, 45 exporters and agents tuning into our live webinar forum Export Outlook – Supply Chain in a Challenging Market and gatherings of all three of our Chamber Committees in the last 7 days.

Personally, my head is feeling a little fried from that much time in zoom, team and webinex conferences but the quality of the data we have gathered around how businesses are navigating their way through these challenging times has been extraordinary. We are starting to piece together a comprehensive picture of doing business in Fremantle at the moment.

The feedback is generally positive in terms of our diversity of industries pivoting quickly to adapt to the changes before them, finding creative ways to continue to do business and re-evaluating their business models, and physical spaces, for the future. Negotiating with difficult landlords, uncertainty about a return to “normal”,  Australia Post delays and the new ATO systems to access stimulus packages seem to be the most challenging issues identified.

The Chamber have very much welcomed the opportunity to sit on the City of Fremantle’s Economic Recovery Working Group, and a big thank you to the Mayor and Councillors for enabling us to have a voice for Fremantle Business at the decision-making table. We will continue to gather member and business leader’s feedback and the emerging creative ideas for recovery to hopefully assist in quick and evidence based decision making over the next few months.

Ideas put forward from our Committees have included:

  • ways to create greater visibility and connection to our diverse industry base through a “shop front” style adventure trail that allows us to look behind the inner city CBD shopfront to see the makers, creators, producers and wide range of industry that makes up our Port City in a really creative way;
  • creating online and digital Experience Fremantle from the Inside maps to allow for planning of adventures and trails,
  • engagement of City’s planning and heritage in creating demand for our perfectly adaptable “COVID-19” socially distancing appropriate heritage work-spaces, and
  • finding ways for the City and local industry to ensure local procurement is front of mind as contracts start to be re-issued.

Our Tourism Committee is also working to formulate how our operators can feed into the ‘Adventure Awaits’ and ‘Our Story’ narrative set by Tourism WA.

From an export perspective, April and May are proving strong months in terms of product movement into overseas markets, particularly on the back of the Federal Government’s flight assistance program. We need to do all that we can to manage these risks to ensure this positive trend continues and we are not hit by the predicted second wave of economic impact later in the year.

The recent press around barley tariffs and a close focus on meat exports into China are worrying and our primary local concern is that this tariff policy maybe the start of a wave to come.

The feedback from Cassandra Winzenried, Chief Economist at Export Finance Australia, at our Export Outlook – Supply Chain in Challenging Times Forum last Friday morning, is that there are three predicted risks to export in the near term. These being supply chains and freight availability, global financial instability and trade relations (particularly a move from the free trade agreements towards national protection).

It was clear from the presentation that across the board risks to our global economy, and to our own businesses remain, and finding ways to navigate our way will remain challenge, particularly as a second wave of economic crisis predicted to hit in August and September emerges.

That said, there are many opportunities being presented though to relook at our business models and shift the traditional paradigms in the way we lead. We must make the most of these opportunities, while we continuing to manage the risks ahead.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to create an extension of our Fremantle from the Inside Map and campaign to find the links between our membership base. We will create an easy guide and reference tool to profile our membership base that isn’t just a directory, but a guide for giving our business to our community.

We will need your help to do this though so please start to share with us how your business models have changed, when you are open, what you are doing differently and then keep your eyes on our socials (Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin), read the member profiles in our Chamber Weekly or phone direct when you are about to procure services to see if a Chamber member can help you.

Please just email membership@fremantlechamber.com.au or call 9335 2711 if you want to put your hand up to procure locally – from a mothers day gift to assistance with commercial landlords.

Let’s start to get enthusiastic about what Fremantle offers as a place to do business in this new world, offers locals as a destination and what adventures we can create in our own workplaces to shift positively to a post Winter resurgence of activity.



Image Source : @clippersRaceFremantle