A steering committee has been formed to investigate the establishment of a Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank in Yamba.

The committee, chaired by Bob Thompson of Clarence Coast Law, hopes to raise $200,000 in pledges by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Pledges of Support of between $500 and $10,000 are being sought from Yamba residents and businesses that would like become shareholders in Clarence Valley Community Financial Services Limited.

This company was established to set up the South Grafton Community Bank Branch over 10 years ago, and now wants to share its success with the Yamba community and its own branch.

A spokesman for the committee, South Grafton Community Bank branch manager Des Plunkett, said a sufficient number of pledges are required before an independent consultant is appointed to conduct a feasibility study.

“If we raise $200,000 in pledges, we will move on to the feasibility study with view to approval from Bendigo Bank to go ahead and issue a prospectus,” Mr Plunkett said.

“If we don’t get $200,000 in pledges, the project will be unlikely to go ahead.

“At last check we have $110,000 in pledges and are more than half way to our minimum.

“Realistically, we hope to reach our target by end of first quarter 2010, and we encourage anyone who is interested in supporting the project to complete and lodge a pledge form now so we can move on to the next step.

“If we reach our target in this timeframe, our target would to have a branch open in the second half of 2010.

“Potential customers can also indicate their support by establishing some banking relationship with us now through the South Grafton Branch.

“This has been already occurring, and this new business will be domiciled on the Yamba Branch when it opens. There are also some benefits available for personal and business loans taken up during this period.”

The Community Bank initiative was developed by Bendigo Bank to provide communities around Australia with banking services and an ongoing source of local funding.

The first branch was opened in 1998 in response to what Bendigo Bank says was community demand for face-to-face banking services following branch closures throughout the 1990s.

The steering committee says that having a Community Bank in Yamba will keep local money and local jobs in the town, and provide a continuous income stream for community projects and initiatives.

“A Community Bank Branch is a franchise of Bendigo Bank operated by a local company owned by local shareholders,” the committee said.

“While Bendigo Bank provides banking infrastructure and support, the community manages the branch, marshals community support and returns profits to the local community.”

For further information on the project and to obtain a Pledge of Support form, contact:
Des Plunkett 6643 3044
Bob Thompson 6646 3077
Karen Toms 0403 195 178
John Warden 0407 361 118.