A NEW bank in Port Fairy promising to spend half its profits in the community has cleared the final hurdles.
Campaigners for the Bendigo Bank branch — marketed as a community bank — have spent four years building support in the township by securing business and selling shares in the branch.
This week they reached the minimum number of shareholders required for the branch to operate.
Key supporter Peter Langley said the branch needed to secure a minimum of $745,000 in shares by October 3, otherwise the project would have to be scrapped and the purpose-built building sold for another use. Construction started on the building several months ago.
“We just got there on that day. The reality was if we didn’t get there the project would have finished. Since then we’ve had another $60,000,” Mr Langley said.
“The big difference between community banking and other banks is that this one will put 50 per cent of its profits straight back into the community.
“That’s why we started it four years ago.”
He said the branch had $40 million in banking business on its books “waiting to go”.
Among new shareholders is Port Fairy local and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine.
“I’m proud to be a shareholder as a local resident. I think community banks across Victoria are a great success story,” Dr Napthine said.
“In communities where they have been set up they’ve put an enormous amount of money back into local communities.”
Dr Napthine said the branch helped remove the “derelict” former petrol station that occupied the prime Bank Street address for years. New apartments are also included in the two-storey building.
Mr Langley said the bank would begin advertising for a manager shortly while another four jobs would be created by the opening.