Local profits secure success of Community Bank
The profitability of local branch operations such as Upwey's had secured the success of the first phase of Community Bank, Bendigo Bank Group Managing Director Rob Hunt said today.
"Community Bank works. Upwey and a number of our other sites have clearly shown that those communities with the will and the means to support their own banking operation can run a viable banking business,"Mr Hunt said.
"Upwey has more than $30 million in business and is now achieving operating surpluses of $10,000 a month after just over a year of trading - a great achievement by a local community.
"Upwey has now secured a local banking service where none existed before, they have created a new local business with new jobs, they now have a banking service which they control, and they have a local financier who is committed to the long-term success of their community.
"Importantly, they have also reinvigorated their community and proven to themselves that concerted local action can make a difference.
"In short, they have taken giant strides towards improving the long-term prospects of their community."
Mr Hunt said the success of the Upwey branch was also being mirrored in other Community Bank sites, including the pioneering Wimmera branches at Rupanyup and Minyip, Wentworth in southern NSW and Lang Lang in South Gippsland.
"All of these sites are now returning sustainable monthly operating surpluses to their communities and the oldest of them has only been open for 18 months.
"When Bendigo Bank launched Community Bank, we said returning banking services to disenfranchised communities would be only a first step towards giving local people stronger control over their economic destiny.
"Now that the model is proven to work, we will work on phase two, which will seek to give local communities improved access to capital required to stimulate economic activity.
"Bendigo Bank is involved in a range of initiatives, including the Bendigo Stock Exchange and our soon-to-be-launched regional development fund, to provide a prudential structure to enable the application of capital to regional innovation with the aim of sustaining and further developing communities which are essential to our nation's social and economic fabric.
"The Community Bank movement has already produced spin-offs which hint at the achievement of these longer-term goals. Not the least of these is the fostering of a can-do attitude in these communities, which for too long have been told they are unviable and have had no choice but to wait and hope that government and major business 'bless' them with a grant, a subsidy or an investment.
"Community Bank has shown that if they have the will, and there is a demonstrated way, then local people can make a difference to their prospects.
"The project has also demonstrated to me that within our ranks we have vast, untapped leadership potential."
Bendigo Bank currently supports 19 Community Banks in four states, with six more branches confirmed to open before June.