Community bank close to target

A PROJECT to set up a community bank in Bargara is closing in on the $650,000 in pledges it needs to get the bank up and running.

Coral Coast Community Bank Project spokesman Barry Brady said the committee had collected $500,000 in pledges so far.

“We’ve got about 130 people on board as pledgees,” he said.

Mr Brady said although it had taken longer than expected to get the bank set up, the pledgees were still keen on the plan.

“We’ve recently contacted all our pledgees and they’re still on board,” he said.

“Everybody is still keen to have the benefits of a community bank for Bargara.”

The bank would be a franchise, with the community owning the rights to operate a Bendigo Bank branch.

The pledges were an indication of the level of support the community was prepared to give to the bank.

The committee running the project is also asking for an indication if people were prepared to do their banking at the branch.

Mr Brady said the committee would hold a breakfast for Bargara business operators on Thursday morning to discuss the benefits of a community bank in the area.

He said there were about 250 community banks operating across Australia, with another 20 to 25 being added every year.

So far they had returned a total of about $50 million to shareholders and community projects.

“The idea is to return the profits to the local community to support local organisations and sporting and charity groups,” he said.

The committee had been hoping to get the necessary pledges by the end of the 2009/2010 financial year, but Mr Brady said they had been hit hard by the global financial crisis.

“At this stage we’re looking to have it up and running by the end of the year,” he said.

“It’s really a matter of promoting to local people and businesses the benefits of having the bank.”

He said having enough pledges was the only way to get the project off the ground.

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