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Bendigo Bank MD opens $1.6m centre in Henty

10 February 2006 |Media centre

It is repeatedly reported that times are tough in rural Australia, but don’t bother telling that to the 1000-strong population of Henty.

This rural NSW town has the can do spirit that would put many larger, suburban centres to shame.

And it all boils down to the locals, their strong sense of community spirit and love for their small piece of Australia.

Drive five hours north of Melbourne, or seven hours south west of Sydney and you will arrive at Henty, the “home of the header”.

What this community has achieved in the past 10 years is quite amazing.

This town was the first community in NSW to embark on Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank® journey, at a time when others in the financial industry were questioning the merit of the model and communities were sitting back, waiting to see how this banking model would work.

In 2004, after a three year campaign, the $6 million Henty Hospital opened its doors – the community raised more than $120,000 towards the cost of landscaping and extras for the hospital.

In February 2005, the community will celebrate the launch of a $1.6 Community Civic Centre. Again, the community raised more than $1 million towards the total cost of the centre, which is the largest of its kind between the regional cities of Albury and Wagga Wagga.

A Melbourne-based developer, based on the growth of the town, has recently announced the construction of a $15 million aged care facility in the town, with work due to begin in late March 2006.

“Our community has a fighting spirit,” Community Bank® chairman and long-time resident Milton Taylor said.

“We are proud of our town and have never been a town which has simply sat back, waiting for Government handouts to further our progress.

“In rural Australia, we learnt a long time ago that if we don’t help ourselves, nobody else will,” he said.

In the two years from 2004 to 2006, it is estimated that more than $25 million will be spent in commercial development in the town.

Bendigo Bank Managing Director Rob Hunt will participate in the official opening of the Henty Community Civic Centre on 10 February.

“We are proud of our partnership with communities throughout Australia, and in particular, Henty,” Mr Hunt said.

“As I travel around the country and meet with not only our staff but other communities, I continue to turn to the Henty story as an example of what one community can achieve.

“When we launched Community Bank® as an alternative banking model, I said that it was always going to be about more than simply banking. It was about mobilising, engaging and uniting the community to work as one to achieve great things.

“Henty Community Bank is only one example of what the people of Henty have achieved by working together.

Henty Community Bank achievements:

  • Initially contributed from company profits $315,000 to the Community Civic Centre development.
  • Provided a $700,000 loan for completion of the project. However, has committed a further $150,000 annually to cover the cost of the loan until it has been paid off.
  • In 2005, allocated $150,000 to a wide range of community projects.

Bendigo Bank will hold its NSW/QLD Regional Conference at the Centre on 30/31 March, with more than 100 delegates taking part.

“This will be a fantastic opportunity for our community to showcase not only our new Community Civic Centre, but our town as a whole,” Mr Taylor said.

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