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Bendigo to host national conference in 2015


Bendigo will host next year's Community Bank National Conference, an event expected to attract more than 1000 visitors to the region from 8 to 10 September.

The announcement was made on the final day of this year's conference, held at the Darwin Convention Centre.

Bendigo Bank Executive Community Engagement Robert Musgrove said he was delighted the conference was returning to the "home of Community Banking" in 2015.

"We held our first national conference in Bendigo in 1999, when Community Banking was in its infancy," Mr Musgrove said.

"At that time we had just less than 10 Community Bank branches in operation and about 40 delegates in attendance.

"Since then, our Community Bank network has grown exponentially, with 305 branches now serving communities across Australia, overseen by almost 2000 volunteer directors.

"But it's bigger than just bringing banking services to these towns and suburbs. Our network of locally owned branches have now invested more than $125 million in banking profits in their communities, from buying books for the local library to building new community sporting complexes."

Mr Musgrove said it was thanks to the development of the Ulumbarra Theatre - slated for opening in early 2015 - that the Bank was able to bring such a large conference to Bendigo.

"This facility is going to be an invaluable addition to the City of Greater Bendigo," he said.

"I can honestly say that without it, we would not have been able to bring an event of this scale here to our hometown.

"We've welcomed more than 700 Community Bank directors and staff to Darwin for this year's conference, and we expect an even larger number in Bendigo next year, injecting more than $1 million into the local economy."

Next year's conference will use Ulumbarra Theatre's 957-seat main auditorium and adjacent breakout rooms. Sessions are also planned to be held at the Capital Theatre, Old Fire Station Theatre and the VAC Arts Centre, with the opening night festivities to be celebrated at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Greater Bendigo Mayor Cr Barry Lyons said with more than 90 per cent of delegates coming from out of town, the conference will provide significant economic benefits for Bendigo.

"This is simply fantastic news and we are excited to showcase Bendigo and the new Ulumbarra Theatre to conference delegates from across Australia.

"Bendigo has always been a popular destination for conferences and events and we are excited that by next year Bendigo will have a venue with the capacity to host a national conference of this size and stature and we are looking forward to attracting even more events in the future.

The City is delighted that Bendigo Bank shares our vision for the new theatre by holding their annual conference here.  It's great for Bendigo Bank, our local economy and our community.