Home' Ballarat Enterprise : Enterprise Edition 15 Contents From little
The Creswick community branch of the Bendigo Bank celebrated its
third birthday on May 25 this year. Since opening in 2007, the bank
has put back more than $90,000 into the Creswick community.
The chairman of the bank's committee, Graeme Mitchell, was one of the
first to see the potential of a community bank for the town.
"I've been involved with the Lions Club for 30 years and with the bank
branch, I saw an opportunity to raise money and to do something bigger
than a raffle for the community," Graeme said.
"I thought if we can get it up and running, we can get some worthwhile
things out of it."
The community bank has indeed made good on its promise, with its
profits assisting the Country Fire Authority and the John Curtin Hostel plus
helping to buy toys for a local kindergarten.
Recently, the bank pledged $50,000 for the soon-to-be-built Lindsay
Reserve, which will provide Creswick with a much-needed new sporting
ground and community centre.
In explaining how a community bank works, Graeme said the community
takes a franchise from Bendigo Bank, who then employs staff to run the
"At the end of each financial year, shareholders receive a small dividend
and the rest of the profit goes to community projects - it's a wonderful
thing," he said,
Also worthwhile are the regular Bendigo Bank franchisee meetings. Most
recently, there was a meeting in Lorne where ideas were exchanged
between community bank members.
"Here we learn of things other banks such as Avoca and Maryborough are
doing that maybe no-one at Creswick has thought of and see how it can
be adapted for our bank."
One idea to come from Creswick has been the Ban the Bulb campaign,
which saw the bank - with the help of the local Lions Club and CFA - raise
$11,000 by fitting 5,800 light bulbs in the district.
This cheque has been put aside for the Lindsay Reserve for things such
as carpet, equipment or whatever is needed, Graeme said.
He said the community bank had made a big difference to Creswick.
"It is locally owned and has helped to bring the community together,"
"All the sporting clubs can see the rewards in sponsorship and their
support helps us sell our story to the community who become members.
"The bank has wonderful staff and they have done a great job selling the
story to the community too."
He also credits the wonderful support from staff at Ballarat's Bendigo Bank,
especially Ballarat and Wimmera regional manager Simon Cornwell.
"The staff in Ballarat, from day one, have been very supportive of what we
are trying to do," he said.
It hasn't all been plain sailing though, as Graeme and 15 other keen
townspeople fought in the initial stages to gain interest and support for
A few problems early on meant the project was two years in the planning
Graeme explained there were four stages to getting a community bank
up and running.
The first is the pledge stage where $600,000 must be found. This money
comes from people who decide to become shareholders and pledge
money to set-up the bank.
A feasibility study is then carried out. Provided the feasibility study is
all good, the next stage -- shareholding - is about recalling the pledges
Finally comes the best stage - opening the bank.
"In Creswick, 350 shareholders in the district pledged money and put in
capital to start us off," Graeme said.
"Many have been very patient and supportive but they will be rewarded
with some dividends shortly."
With the Buninyong community bank due to open next month, Graeme
said the Creswick committee had been giving them as much support as
"Bendigo Bank is opening between 20 and 40 community banks across
Australia each year and those communities are getting the benefit of a
hometown bank with the profits staying in the town."
The two years of work it took to get the community bank off the ground
was more than worthwhile, Graeme said.
With teething problems out of the way, it is hoped the bank's profit has
even greater potential for growth in the future.
The bank now holds $75 million worth of business in Creswick, making it
a success in any business.
Story: Emma Brown
Picture: Lachlan Bence
What: Bendigo Bank
Community Bank branch
Number of franchises: 255
at the end of March 2010.
Figures: Donations to local
groups and projects: $40.3
Volume footings: $16.3
Dividends paid to
Branch staff: 1,152.
Branch directors: 1,690.
Bank accounts: 788,218.
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