A MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR south-west endorsed and operated business endeavour has been given the green light.
Port Fairy and District Community Bank (PFDCB), a partnership with Bendigo Bank, is expected to open its doors to the public in March nest year, thanks to the efforts of a 15-person volunteer steering committee.
During the two-and-a-half years the initiative has spent in the pipeline, 370 south-west businesses and individuals have pledged more than $875,000 in start-up capital.
It follows the success of Cobden, Heywood and Dunkeld branches and will join 300 others which have sprung up in small Australian towns. “All together they have put more than $80 million back into their communities through half-shares,” committee chairperson Peter Langley said. “When was the last time a multi-million-dollar business has started up in this town?”
Commonwealth and ANZ provided “ample” banking facilities in Port Fairy but did not offer localised benefits like PFDCB, Mr Langley said.
“It’s the only institution that will give 50 per cent of its profits back to the community,” he said.
“Some of these banks are making $600,000 a year for their communities, year in, year out.”
Mr Langley likened the project to the Port Fairy Folk Festival where a group of volunteers worked to secure revenue for the town.
“Everyone can get involved simply by being a customer or a shareholder,” he said. “No one is asked to do anything except their daily banking business.”
Mr Langley said the committee had been working through the “logistics” of the project, including finding a site, manager and staff.
He said people still had time to pledge money to the bank with a view to become a shareholder.
“We’d like to reach about $1.1 million,” he said.