WITH a $70 million business base, Gingin Community Bank is a model success story for the Community Bank ethos.
Gingin resident and real estate agent Tom Cabassi had heard of the concept and discussed it with a group of interested locals, but it was not until Mr Cabassi's meeting with Bendigo Banks chief executive Rob Hunt that the idea came to fruition.
An initial board of 12 members voted overwhelmingly to establish a Community Bank branch in Gingin, appointing Colin Roche as branch manager in 2001 and officially opening its doors on May 21.
Mr Cabassi said the bank had been one of the best things to happen to Gingin.
"Business is booming and this has an overflow effect to the rest of the town," Mr Cabassi said.
The Community Bank stems from the Bendigo Bank, originally established in 1858 in the Bendigo goldfields to help people keep their homes through the hard times.
In 1998 Bendigo Bank pioneered the Community Bank concept to spearhead the return of banks to rural communities.
The bank places a high priority on helping rural communities and has a convenient banking service with the focus on adding value to the community on a long-term basis.
As there had only ever been an agency in Gingin, it was quite a coup to open a bank branch that provided a full array of banking services at competitive interest rates with friendly professional service.
General branch manager Colin Roche said the hardest hurdle initially was to bring about change in a community that was used to travelling to do its banking.
"The community of Gingin has shown their trust and support of the Community Bank and are proud to come in and use a bank that they consider their own," Mr Roche said.
The bank is managed by locals for locals and wishes to play an active part in progressing the financial prospects of the community.
"Last year we returned a dividend to shareholders of 7c, with this year they will be declaring a dividend of 8c to shareholders," Mr Roche said.
"We also put funds back into the community including $5000 to the Gingin Medical Centre, $2000 to the Gingin Aquatic Centre's first aid room, $2000 to the Lancelin community bus and over $10,000 to local clubs and community projects.
"We are looking to the future with another branch opening in Lancelin in 2006 and we conservatively estimate profit for the next financial year to be in the vicinity of $260,000 before tax and depreciation."
Gingin's Community Bank also has a specialist agribusiness branch manager in Stephen Fidge, who provides an ideal additional service for a diverse agricultural region such as Gingin.
For more information contact Gingin Community Bank on 9575 1560.