A businessman is banking on community support to establish a community bank in the Eurobodalla.
Chris Gandy, of Moruya, started the conversation about bringing community banking to Moruya after the St George Bank closed its doors on June 12.
Mr Gandy questioned why Moruya did not have a community bank, and the more he investigated the concept, the more benefits he saw for the shire.
He approached the Bendigo Bank and this month met community members to gauge their interest.
He said sufficient community interest and financial pledges would be needed to start the branch, and that, once established, the branch would return at least 80 per cent of its profits to the community.
Bendigo Bank regional manager Jim Crawford described the model as a “perpetual fundraising tool for the community”.
“We’ve got 310 banks nationwide and they’ve put $130 million back into their communities, and this is growing at a compound rate,” Mr Crawford said.
“Just on the South Coast, community banks would have put $4 million back into the community.”
Bendigo Bank state manager Chris Purse-house said it was a “no brainer” for the shire.
“The demographics at Moruya are really excellent for a community bank,” Mr Purse-house said.
“On the South Coast, we have successful community banks, such as at Pambula, Oak Flats and Milton.
“It’s creating a sustainable income for you to support the community.”
Mr Pursehouse said the next step would be to establish a steering committee to drive an awareness campaign.
Money pledged for shares would provide working capital to sustain the bank until it was profitable, he said.
Mr Pursehouse said that if enough support was shown for a bank in Moruya, Bendigo Bank would conduct a feasibility study.
“We don’t want to set it up to fail,” he said.
“If there is enough business in the Eurobodalla shire to support a bank . . . the next step is to form a public company.
“We go out and do the prospectus, raise the working capital, employ the people, find premises, and away we go.”
The branch would create four new jobs in the town.
Mr Gandy said feedback had already been encouraging.
“There is the sufficient level of enthusiasm in the community to get the steering committee going,” he said.
“I haven’t had a knockback from anyone that we’ve approached and we really haven’t gone public yet.”
Mr Gandy is keen to talk to people who are interested in being involved in spreading the word and generating enthusiasm for the project.
“It is going to be up to the community,” Mr Gandy said.
“Our job is to make sure we provide the environment where they can make a reasonable and prudent decision.”
To become involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the closure, St George Bank has retained its automatic teller machine in Moruya.