By now end of year work celebrations are done and dusted. You may well have a break ahead of you, whereas others will be looking forward to a very busy summer season.

Time for a quick wrap up.

2017 was a challenging year for many. The impact of the economic downturn cut spending across business and the community; visitor numbers were down; commercial office vacancies were very high and with very competitive pricing increased exports and fluctuating commodity prices; and there was a little movement on delivery of new developments. Some businesses invested in major refits but others experienced the impact of “essential infrastructure” works (Pipelines for Perth) that kept customers at bay. (We know there is never a good time, but it really does hurt).

The change of State Government was one of the most influential things to happen to our region because it altered so much of what was to be. The commitment to the sale of the Port changed to not happening and the Perth Freight link was cancelled. The Westport Strategy is underway and will hopefully deliver some shorter-term improvements for logistics in our region and get on with the development of the longer term Outer Harbour.

The Local Government election was feisty but not quite over yet. Parts of Kings Square await a wrecking ball, or the appropriate contemporary equivalent. But, elsewhere in Fremantle, Quest Apartments opened, new car parks appeared, new hotels were proposed and development specs firmed. Whilst 2017 may not have been a bundle of laughs, there is some light getting into the 2018 tunnel.

I thank our people, the members who form the Board and committees for their contribution and guidance. The Development and Infrastructure Committee considered matters of planning, economic development and the progression of a Future Freo Implementation Plan. Led by Franco Andreone, the committee featured Bob Shields, Lisa Shine, David McLean (UNDA), Marc Greco (Engineering Consultants Au), Craig White (Fremantle Property Services), Tom Brooking (Tom Brooking Design) and Tony Riggio (Stageworks).

Ivan Dzeba led the Tourism Committee in a year that culminated with the Fremantle Tourism Roundtable, 30 business leaders coming together to deliberate priorities in building Fremantle as a domestic, interstate and international destination. Fremantle has it all – we really need to let more people know. Many thanks to Amber-Lee Hong (Fremantle Prison), Nicole Passarelli (Rottnest Express), Elly Rower (Kailis), Sam Pangiarella (Warren’s Menswear), Blair Wallace (Esplanade by Rydges); Gill Harrison (WA Museum).

2017 ends with Ivan Dzeba (Benny’s) in the role of President; Vice President, Franco Andreone (Fremantle Ports); Lee Bartlett (TAMS); Jamie Murdoch (Fremantle Markets); Abby McDowell (Esplanade by Rydges); Anthony Van Der Weilan (Fremantle Property Services); Tony Riggio (Stageworks); Virginia Guest (Stand Property & Management Services), and Bram Newbold (Quest). Thank you also to retiring President Scott Bailey and Board Members, Ra Stewart and Bruce Moriarty.

And by no means least, thank you to the in-house Chamber team – Zoe Saunders, Marcela Ekin de Castro, Marian Bull, Jordan Andonovski and Kerry McIvor.

From all at the Chamber, our best wishes to you and your family, your employees, and customers. If you are to holiday, enjoy the break. If you are in retail, hospitality or any tourism related business, may the summer season be bountiful and profitable.

Enjoy the festive season and cheers to 2018 being a great year for you all.

Olwyn Williams,
CEO, Fremantle Chamber of Commerce