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Gold Coast turns into community banking central


In 2001, Biggera Waters opened Queensland's second Community Bank® branch, owned by 300-plus local residents, traders and business people with a commitment to return profits back to local projects.

It was a gamble by this community which raised more than $440,000 in shareholdings to open a new style of banking in partnership with Bendigo Bank, a relatively unknown banking brand in the State.

Six locals were appointed as volunteer directors to the Community Bank® company and five people were employed to work in the branch.

But it was a gamble that has paid off for this community with a second branch open in nearby Helensvale, providing local employment for another three locals.

Significantly, the local Community Bank® company has returned more than $300,000 in grants, sponsorships to community projects and organisations and shareholder dividends.

Current Chairman and local business consultant, Robert Knight joined the board as a director in 2007.

"Initially it was about returning a traditional bank branch to the Biggera Waters shopping centre," he said.

"At the time, Bendigo was the only bank that was prepared to take a chance on our community and if we could prove that we had the community spirit and commitment to raise the capital, Bendigo Bank was prepared to partner with us in opening a bank branch.

"The clincher for us was the fact that as our banking business grew, so too would the benefits that would flow back to our community.

"I don't think any of us realised how significant those benefits and returns to the community would be.

"It started out with us supplying drink bottles for local sporting groups and has grown to developing a community app for Helensvale so locals and visitors have access to information about all things Helensvale."

"Look around our community and you'll see the Community Bank® footprint on most projects and community events, both big and small."

The Gold Coast will become Community Bank® central on Wednesday and Thursday when 200 Community Bank®  volunteer directors arrive for the annual two-day State Community Bank® Conference.

These people aren't bankers. They're Mums and Dads, retirees, local business people, public servants, students, teachers, musicians, artists, accountants, lawyers … and the list goes on.

The one thing they do have in common is their love and commitment to their local community and a drive to make it a better place to live and work.

QLD Community Bank® statistics

National Community Bank® statistics

$14 million invested back into the community

$148 million returned to community groups

47 Community Bank® branches

311 Community Bank® branches

More than 200 staff

More than 1500 staff