“It is our choices….that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling

The sun appears to be gradually coming out from the COVID-19 social isolation cloud this week as the Premier eased restrictions slightly to allow for gatherings of up to 10 socially distanced individuals and a return to school and friends for our younger family members.

COVID-19 will continue to be on the radar of local businesses though not just in the short term, but across the medium term as we assess we take slow steps to recovery from the unprecedented impacts on our business community.

Consideration of post COVID-19 recovery, supporting supply chain links (through initiatives like Doorstep Dinners) in retail and hospitality services and continuing to differentiate between different local industries and their differing impacts needs to be a strong focus in coming months.

Thank you to all those members who took the time to complete a larger open ended and long questionnaire as part of our 2020 Chamber Membership Survey. The results highlight the strength of our business community and provide great feedback for our planning into the year ahead.

Two key things stood out for me in the feedback, the first is the strong role the Chamber has in not just advocacy for Fremantle business, but the day to day support in assisting businesses to continue to make connections and join the dots in the supply and market chains that make doing business in Fremantle a success.

It is clear from the results that doing business in Fremantle is a choice, not a necessity. Our business leaders do business here because it is home, because it offers a great, because it provides the space to think outside the box, to be different and to achieve work life balance, but most importantly they do business here because they have a passion for Fremantle, and see benefit in the supply links that a small dense business community provides.

As a Chamber we need to understand these drivers and, despite the incredible diversity in our membership and industry base, recognise the common factors that drive our members to do business locally. Interestingly within those who responded, our membership appears to be equally divided between those who join to give back and appreciate the role the Chamber plays in being a common voice for local business, and those who join simply to gain referrals and opportunities as individuals.

Our priority advocacy projects identified under the Greater Fremantle Action Plan are echoed by the expectations of respondents – including local content and procurement, transport, access, heritage, improving anti-social behaviour, destination marketing, activations and encouraging foot traffic, community cohesion and support for visitor attractions. We will continue to work hard on these priorities as life continues to gradually return and doing work between agencies becomes a little easier than under the current restrictions.

We will be working to set our upcoming budget this month, and will build on the feedback to create a diverse events program that includes different venues, smaller and larger gatherings, and ways to bring like-minded industry, or supply chains.

We will launch a new website next month that will allow for a greater emphasis on digital and other formats required in the current climate, and a greater ability to share information on our advocacy and specific project efforts.

In the meantime, we encourage you to sign up to the two digital events on topics that you have requested –

  • Next week’s Set the Month in Motion will cover budgeting in the eye of the storm, taking a practical look at the COVID-19 stimulus packages and also how to make clear forecasts in times of incredible change. also be covering the topic with the expects at our next which will run live on Wednesday 6 May at 8am.
  • The following Export Economic Update Web Forum on Friday 8 May at 10am, will have an expert panel including Cassandra Winzenried, Export Finance Australia’s Chief Economist who will discuss accessing markets and international supply chain issues.

From tele health to new digital ways to network, it is clear this rapid move to more digital ways to do business is here to stay. For those local retail and hospitality venues who are yet to build their online and digital presence, NOW is definitely the time – and if you are budgeting this has to be a priority.

Have a re-listen to our previous podcasts as you think about where you want to go with a new digital presence, and as always contact the Chamber’s Membership Officer for some additional advice/support on how best to achieve this. We are here to connect the dots for our members, and how point you in the right direction for additional resources.

That said, the 2020 Chamber survey shows that businesses will still chose Fremantle and its live and real community as place to do business in the future. It is re-assuring to still see a sense of optimism in the opportunity that can be realised from doing business here, and as a Chamber we will continue to be a strong voice to help our members realise these opportunities.

Support local and stay safe until next week.