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Gary seeks a stronger chamber

THE appointment of Gary Arcus is another indication that things are changing at the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce.

In the past year the Chamber has been on a rejuvenation and marketing drive to bring more businesses into the fold.

The renewed focus of the Chamber first came about with the appointment of high profile local John Longley as the Chambers first executive director.

What followed was the launch of Fremantle First in July and the splitting up of the Chamber into three divisions: tourism, retail and commerce, and industry – all aimed at dealing more effectively with member issues.

Capping off the change has been the appointment of Gary Arcus, marketing manager of the Industrial Foundation for Accident Prevention (IFAP).

IFAP, like the FCC, is a member organisation whose membership range from large multinational mining companies to small one-man shows.

The not for profit organisation has been operating for the past 28 years has a $4.5 million turnover each year. Any surplus is reinvested to extending the service and for research and development.

Rather then being a lobby group, IFAP is more about teaching employees of member organisations about safety and evacuation procedures.

After six and a half years at IFAP Mr Arcus believes many of the things adopted could also be used at the FCC.

He believes the US has a lot to offer in terms of running associations. A membership with the American Society of Association Executives sees him often go to the US to see what is being done internationally.

“They have moved much more to have for-profit arms particularly in conventions. We don’t tend to do that here in Australia,” he said.

“Things like that the Chamber has to do. It’s a tricky mix because you’ve got to find something that doesn’t cut across a members existing activity and also one which can sustain and keep going.”

About 30 per cent of the Chamber’s income comes from membership fees with rent from the Chamber’s building and the supply of trade certificates providing ongoing revenue – though not nearly enough.

Besides trying to provide new revenue streams, Mr Arcus also believes great in-roads could still be made is the use of electronic communication.

“We’ve got to find a way to communicate better with members without having to have meetings all the time,” he said.

“And finding a way to do that is something I’m going to have to work on. Members have got to get used to using it as a means of commenting on things.

“Really the way forward is to use the new electronic communication forms to really make associations get the views of members and push it forward.”

Mr Arcus has a strong love of Fremantle having lived in the area for the past 18 years.

A member of the local Rotary Club and a Safer WA committee member, Mr Arcus believes the City not only offers a good lifestyle, but as the City continues to expand the need to commute to Perth for different services has also been removed.

“The best thing about Fremantle is that it is serious business but in a relaxed style,” he said.

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