Incorporated in early 2018, the Fishermans Bend Business Forum (FBBF) was established to be a voice for local business in Fishermans Bend and to provide representation to the broader business community during the planning and implementation of Australia’s largest urban renewal project.

Richard Blackman is the President of the FBBF and the Director, People and Safety and Design Consultant at CIA Services Group. We spoke with Richard about the FBBF, his business and the FBBF vision for Australia’s largest urban renewal project

What first drew you to want to be part of business community specifically focused on Fishermans Bend?

My organisation, CIA Services Group (CIASG), moved its offices from St Kilda Road to Phillip Court in Fishermans Bend In 2014.  We were attracted by its central location and access to the major freeways, enabling us to have access to clients in both Melbourne and Geelong.

In late 2017 we had become aware of the Fishermans Bend Taskforce reaching out to the business community to consult on the plans for the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area. Like most businesses of our size, CIA Services Group had limited internal resources to review and gain an understanding of the complex planning issues that would impact on our business. So, we invited representatives from the Taskforce to meet with us to discuss the opportunity to form a business forum that could provide a contact point for information exchange and industry networking.

CIASG then worked with our business consultant David Weston to establish a steering committee to test the interest of the local business community. David’s broad experience in industry associations and government agencies helped propel the FBBF and it was incorporated shortly after in February 2018, with CIASG Managing Director, Stephane Fayd’herbe, the inaugural Chair.

Image: President of the FBBF, Richard Blackman
President of the Fishermans Bend Business Forum, Richard Blackman. 

Tell us about your approach to fostering collaboration across Fishermans Bend?

Our Steering Committee met throughout 2018 to understand the issues impacting businesses and industry clusters across Fishermans Bends five precincts.

Examples of what we quickly understood included that businesses in the logistics industry are dependent on access to the Port of Melbourne and access to the road networks, so for them connectivity is priority. Additionally, the areas new data centres require significant power supply, so service infrastructure is vital.

Through collaboration and building relationships across the area we’ve identified eight focus areas for our work supporting local business in Fishermans Bend: public transport, port access, parking for clients and staff, transition of industries, council rates and land tax, land acquisition for public purposes and the vision for industries of the future.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities in Fishermans Bend?

The decision by the University of Melbourne to relocate their Engineering School into the former GMH site will be a huge opportunity for industry collaboration.

This opportunity also speaks to the many identified industry clusters already in the area, where businesses have opportunities to leverage their strengths to build capacity and support each other – while of course providing an exciting environment for new organisations considering a move.

One local cluster we have been keenly observing is around transport solutions, which has been galvanised by the arrival of the Australia Road Research Board (ARRB), who relocated from Vermont.  Automotive industries have of course long been synonymous with the area, so with new players such as ARRB ‘clustering’ here, we’re exploring local opportunities for research and development into autonomous vehicles and alternate concepts for smart city thinking, connections and mobility innovators.

ARRB also providing expert independent research to the road and transport industry including road materials, sustainability, asset management, transport safety, network operations and transport policy. Their plans for a transport test bed locally will hopefully benefit many other businesses and industry organisations located in Fishermans Bend.

Similar clusters also exist locally at the industry and university research hub, where some of our members in the cement and heavy construction materials producers coexist.  Another exciting cluster that is already drawing worldwide attention is around film and creative technologies, industries we are hoping to build even stronger relationships with.

What can the business community expect of the FBBF?

FBBF is a business association where members benefit from a collective voice, regardless of their size or industry.
We’re aware, however, that businesses often lack the time or resources to study submissions to planning panels or consultants’ reports. Hence the FBBF has been, mainly through volunteer resources and engagement with the private legal and planning community, working hard on behalf of our members to engage with politicians, local government and State Government departments and agencies on issues that members have raised – and we look forward to continuing to in the coming years.

Image: the ARRB office at Fishermans Bend
The Australian Road Research Board recently moved their head office to Fishermans Bend

Who can join the FBBF?

Membership of FBBF is open to any business with an interest in being part of a collective voice in Fishermans Bend.  Our aim to represent and advocate for the businesses that operate in the area or may move to the area as the overall project progresses.  
Our membership ranges from owner occupiers to tenants and includes small, local service and product companies through to large businesses that cater to a global market.

Our fee structure is set based on the number of employees of an organisation – and our website has more details on our membership and how to join.

When are you meeting next - and what can people expect?

FBBF offers its members the opportunity to connect with likeminded business owners and managers through member functions and grow our collective strengths through information sharing and learning. Member events explore the issues that members have identified and provides an exchange of ideas in a collaborative and engaging setting.

Our next event is will be held at the amazing offices of the ARRB on Thursday 16 May.  Our theme this month is Mobility and we’ll also been discussion the vision for the Employment Precinct. The event promises to provide an informative and stimulating discussion. Anyone interested in attending can email us.

For more information on the Fishermans Bend Business Forum, visit their website.

For more information on the Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct, visit our webpage.

Page last updated: 11/12/19