Banking on support from community for initiative

The Stawell and district community has been encouraged to make the most of an opportunity to be involved in the launch of a branch of the Bendigo Bank in Stawell.

There is a push to open a Bendigo Bank branch in Stawell.

There is a push to open a Bendigo Bank branch in Stawell.

An information session will be held at the Stawell Town Hall Foyer from 6.30pm on Wednesday, May 28 where all interested members of the community have the ability to learn more about the prospect of establishing a community branch.

Northern Grampians Shire Councillor, Wayne Rice said it is an exciting opportunity, but its success rests firmly with the community.

"The Bendigo Bank has expressed its interest in establishing a community branch here in Stawell," he said.

"This is something that could bring enormous benefits to the community with a percentage of the branch profits given back to the community."

Cr Murray Emerson reiterated it is the people of Stawell who will benefit most from getting behind the initiative.

"The benefits are not only to the individual, but sports clubs, community service clubs through sponsorship, donations and funding," he said.

Business Services and Tourism Officer, Shelly Chalmers said it was important members of the community attended the meeting next Wednesday night.

"If this is something the community wants, the community needs to show its support by attending this meeting," she said.

The basic concept is that communities from local publicly owned companies enter into a commercial franchise to run a Bendigo Bank branch.

Bendigo Bank provides the banking infrastructure and licensing, while the community runs the branch operation and generates customer support in the area.

Bendigo Bank and the local community share the revenue, with local surpluses available for investment in the community via grants, sponsorships and dividends to local shareholders.

Cr Rice said the money in the long term delivered back to the community, could be from between $10,000 and $80,000.

"The more money that goes in, the more money that comes back. You will be investing in a bank that is investing in the community," he said.

Just like any branch of Bendigo Bank, community bank branches offer a full range of banking and financial services, including savings and transaction accounts, home loans and personal loans, credit cards, financial planning, insurance, business banking and phone and internet banking.

If the community decides to establish a branch, it will be able to purchase shares in the local company formed to operate the community bank branch of Bendigo Bank.

These are shares in the locally-owned company, not Bendigo Bank.

Before the formation of the company, the local banking committee seeks pledges of financial support from the community.

By making that pledge, people will be indicating their interest in becoming a shareholder of the local company.

Shares are usually initially offered at $1 per share. Typically local companies seek to issue between 600,000 and 800,000 shares.

Applications should be for a minimum of 500 shares, or a greater number in multiples of 100 up to a maximum of 20,000 shares.

Australia's first community bank branches were opened in the wheatbelt towns of Rupanyup and Minyip in 1998.

Both communities went on to renew their relationship with Bendigo Bank after 10 years and continue to operate successfully today.

Community Bank branches have been successful not because they offer competitive home loans, credit cards, business banking and financial planning - although they do.

They've been successful, and struck a chord with people all over Australia, because they:

Assist communities to deliver their own quality banking service.

Provide employment opportunities for local people.

Keep local capital in the community.

Provide the means to financially support community initiatives for the long term.

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