GIVING BACK: Bendigo Bank’s Jo Hall and John Wessling from Calliope and District Community Bank.
GIVING BACK: Bendigo Bank’s Jo Hall and John Wessling from Calliope and District Community Bank. Mike Richards GLA081213BEND

Community bank branch channels $50,000 back into Calliope

BRINGING a bank to Calliope has changed the way people do business in town, but bringing a community bank to town has also enabled more than $50,000 to go back into the community this year alone.

Calliope and District Community Bendigo Bank Branch was opened four years ago through the support of shareholders who are everyday members of the community.

Usually it can take up to seven years for community banks to break even and begin returning profits to the community, but in Calliope it only took three years - and now the volunteer-run board can't wait to give the profits away.

The board, under Calliope and District Enterprises, has given away $51,804.40 in 2013 through sponsorship and grants to everything from dance groups to country music shows and children's play equipment.

Chairman Robbie Williams said people often had two misconceptions about the community bank model.

"People either think that it's just a bank, or that it's not a real big bank - but it's the fifth-largest bank in Australia at the moment," he said.

"Everybody you speak to, once you explain the concept, comes on board when you explain what goes back into the community."

The community bank branch supports organisations and individuals from Benaraby to Mount Larcom, including Gladstone.

"We've supported the Mount Larcom Show for the last three years and we've done a few projects down at Tannum."

The joint venture with the Gladstone Regional Council will help transform the desert space of Bunting Park into a family friendly area.

Branch manager John Wessling said the progress of business in a town that had a bank grew more rapidly than one without.

"On average we see development progress at about 16%, but I reckon we've seen a bit more here," he said.

"We may not be totally responsible for putting that much extra into the community but now you can do everything you need in town."

The latest scholarship program being run by the bank includes $5000 for two years study, while the second will support any form of agribusiness study for two years, with $25,000 a year.

IN NUMBERS

  • 280-odd shareholders
  • Raised $860,000 capital
  • End of third year paid a 7 cent dividend
  • Will have $4-500,000 to spend in the community in the next six years