Murray Bridge earns 'small business friendly council' accreditation

Businesses on Bridge Street, Murray Bridge. Photo: File.
Businesses on Bridge Street, Murray Bridge. Photo: File.

The Murray Bridge council is friendlier towards business now than it has been in decades, says the chair of the city's business alliance.

Steve Burgess said the relationship between traders and local government, though not perfect, had grown closer since the local election in 2014.

He credited Mayor Brenton Lewis, who he said had carried over a passion for business from his previous role as chief executive of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Murraylands and Riverland.

"Jo (Podoliak)'s relationship with Brenton, as his successor, that's created a very good working relationship and I think that's paying dividends for business," he said.

"Business was always Brenton's focus in his role at RDA and ... that has permeated the council in their decision-making and focus.

"That's not to say they're completely business-oriented, that's not the case, but we're experiencing a much better focus on business than has ever been the case."

Council representatives participate in meetings of the business alliance's committee, and the rural city recently signed up for accreditation as a "small business friendly council" with the Small Business Commissioner.

To join, it had to show it had improved the operating environment for small business, fostered a business advisory group, prioritised local businesses when it procured goods and services, paid invoices to local suppliers within 30 days – the only point on which it needed to improve – and had a timely and cost-effective dispute resolution process.

To keep the accreditation it will have to pass three business-friendly initiatives per year.

Councillors gave the idea their unanimous approval when they met earlier this month.

Councillor Tyson Matthews, a consistent advocate for small business owners, agreed that progress was being made.

Cr Andrew Baltensperger, also the manager of a small business, said it was good to see the state government getting on board as well.

Small Business Commissioner John Chapman said the benefits being small business-friendly included supporting local economies and job opportunities, meeting ratepayers' needs through the provision of goods and services, and creating the right environment to establish a business.

Similar schemes have been set up in Western Australia and New South Wales.