Re-branded Business Murray Bridge promises a new approach

Murray Bridge's business leaders have been welcomed to the first function at the redeveloped Bridgeport Hotel.

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Stephen Walker and Peri Strathearn speak about the former Murray Bridge Business Alliance, now Business Murray Bridge. Photo: Tony Pasin MP/Facebook.

A breakfast at the new Bridgeport Hotel may prove to be the start of something bigger for Murray Bridge’s business leaders.

A hundred and twenty invited guests heard from two representatives of Business Murray Bridge, formerly the Murray Bridge Business Alliance, at the first function held at the new hotel on Friday morning: Stephen Walker and yours truly.

Business Murray Bridge would take a different approach to the former Murray Bridge Business Alliance, Mr Walker said.

It would hire a paid, part-time coordinator to listen to local business owners and managers, advocate for their needs and let them know about upcoming opportunities.

That advocacy would be more effective now that the business group was completely independent from the Murray Bridge council and Regional Development Australia.

“The Bridgeport has definitely brought our focus back on our ability to, as a united business (community), achieve so much more,” Mr Walker said.

The first two Business Murray Bridge events will be an after-work gathering with a guest speaker NBN Co at the end of June, and another business breakfast in early August.

Information about each, and about how businesses can join Business Murray Bridge, will be emailed to breakfast attendees and posted on the association’s Facebook page.

After 25 years, Ian Tregoning’s vision is complete

Friday’s breakfast also featured insights from Bridgeport co-owner Ian Tregoning, whose life-long dream is about to come true.

Twenty-five years have passed since he purchased an historic pub in the heart of Murray Bridge, and it was 2012 when he first had plans drawn up for a redevelopment.

At 8am on Tuesday, the doors will swing open at the new Bridgeport Hotel.

“It has been said … that this doesn’t feel like Murray Bridge, this doesn’t happen in Murray Bridge,” he said.

“Well, it has.

“It’s going to be a catalyst, I believe, for the redevelopment and the growth of tourism in Murray Bridge and the whole region.”

He had stayed in one of the guest rooms on Thursday night, he said, “but I didn’t sleep – it’s just like Christmas for me”.

Hotel general manager Mary-Lou Corcoran thanked the many people who had helped EDP Hotels get to this point, including the Bridgeport’s 148 staff – 95 per cent of whom were locals, and about a third who were previously long-term unemployed – as well as Murray Bridge’s civic leaders, tourism guru Bill Nehmy, trade training centre coordinator Roxanne Rowland, jobs facilitator Christine Willersdorf, TAFE SA’s Sarah Lance and “dear mate” and fellow publican Karen Milesi.

Disclosure: The author is a Business Murray Bridge committee member and attended the breakfast, and stayed a night, as a guest of the Bridgeport Hotel.