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Community Bank® hits one billion dollars milestone

16 July 2001 |Media centre

Australia's Community Bank® network has reached a major milestone with banking business reaching one billion dollars.

Today, more than 80,000 Australians bank with one of the 45 Community Bank® branches of Bendigo Bank throughout Australia.

The combined business banking total ticked over the one billion dollar ($1,000,000,000) mark last week when Warburton resident Molly Brumm opened an account at her local branch east of Melbourne.

"This is a great milestone for Community Banking," said Bendigo Bank's Chief Manager Community Banking, Russell Jenkins.

"Considering that this concept had never been tried anywhere in the world until we launched our first community-owned branch three years ago, the billion dollar milestone represents a ringing endorsement of the concept.

"We now have branches in communities as diverse as small Western Australia wheat towns through to inner Melbourne suburbs, which shows the model can work for a wide range of communities. The main prerequisite is that people are prepared to work together to support local enterprise."

Mr Jenkins said Community Banking business was now growing at around two to four million dollars per day.

"We have been watching with anticipation for the billion dollar mark and it was passed late last week around the time Molly opened an account at Warburton."

Mr Jenkins today presented Ms Brumm and Warburton Community Bank® Branch chairman Ian De La Rue with certificates commemorating the milestone.

Community Banks operate in Victoria, NSW, SA and WA. Strathmore (Melb.) opens next Saturday and another 20 branches are confirmed to open within the next 12 months, including the first Community Banks for Queensland.

Mr Jenkins said Bendigo's Community Bank® model put control back into the hands of individual communities.

"Community Bank® has enabled us to return banking to these regions, but it's proved to be more than simply banking," Mr Jenkins said. It has provided a solution which has involved, united and engaged communities in solving the banking needs of their individual communities.

"And we are now seeing other spinoffs, such as increased takings in local businesses and some secondary projects funded through Community Bank® earnings, such as the business centre opened in Lang Lang."

The Victorian wheatbelt towns of Rupanyup and Minyip were the pioneers of the model, opening Australia's first Community Bank® on 26 June 1998.

After three years Rupanyup/Minyip Community Bank® Branch has more than $30 million in deposits and lending on its books and is recording regular monthly operating surpluses of more than $5000.

Several communities are also using profits to benefit the local community. Henty, in NSW, has established a nursing scholarship to fill a chronic nursing shortage at the local hospital; Upwey, in outer Melbourne, has installed an ATM at a local university campus and offers scholarships to students; and Lang Lang in Gippsland has opened a business centre, drawing professionals including a solicitor and surveyor into the town.

Mr Jenkins said demand for Community Bank® branches remained strong, with more than 1500 communities seeking assistance from Bendigo Bank. The first inner city Sydney Community Banks set to open later this year.

The finishing touches are currently being made to Strathmore Community Bank branch in suburban Melbourne, the 45th Community Bank®, which will officially open its doors on 23 July.

The first Community Banks for Queensland are expected to open before the end of the year.

"Simple banking can often be returned with solutions such as in-store, electronic services or agency facilities but Community Bank® helps in a better understanding of the problem," Mr Hunt said.

"In our view, much of what we are doing is educating the locals about how to use all of their resources and skills to create a better outcome and to better understand how the economy and investment systems work.

"However, many towns and districts have stopped creating from within by using their combined buying power or resources. Community Bank® is helping these communities to enable them to write their own script and have a real say in the future direction of their towns and suburbs."

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