A committee dedicated to bring banking back to Gerringong is confident they have enough community support for Bendigo Bank to take notice.
The Gerringong Community Bank Steering Committee has been campaigning for financial institution to set up an office in the town, after the last bricks and mortar bank – ANZ – closed its doors in January. The nearest banks are in Kiama and Berry.
This saddens me because ... a bank is seen as a sign of security, it’s an essential service.Sandra McCarthy
Chair of the committee Sandra McCarthy said more than $1 million of banking business (more than the $800,000 target) has been pledged while the early stages of an independent survey are looking promising.
Mrs McCarthy hopes the committee can meet with the NSW manager of Bendigo this month to discuss the criteria they need to meet to ensure a new bank is established.
“We have really demonstrated strong enthusiasm from within our community – both from our ordinary residents with banking but also the businesses have actually united and got behind the establishment of a Bendigo Bank,” she said.
Mrs McCarthy said the area has a large retirement population, many of whom find travel difficult, while local businesses have lost a lot of discretionary spending to other towns because people have to travel to do banking.
“This saddens me because with the loss of the bank – particularly for small towns – a bank is seen as a sign of security, it’s an essential service,” she said.
The Bendigo model was chosen by the committee because community members can become shareholders, while a portion of profits go towards community organisations.
There are a lot of empty shops, there’s not many people on the street and the shops that are there are empty so I think a lot of people are struggling.Robyn Sharp
The committee still needs to fund-raise a further $3000 to complete the analysis of their recently commissioned survey which was sent to each household within post code 2534. The findings of which will be presented to the financial institution.
To assist, prize-winning artist Robyn Sharp is donating a mixed media artwork – a large framed “map” of the area – which will be won by a community member who pledges a contribution.
Mrs Sharp is also passionate for the cause and said a bank would help revive Gerringong’s town centre.
“The town really needs it,” she said. “There are a lot of empty shops, there’s not many people on the street and the shops that are there are empty so I think a lot of people are struggling.”
The donated artwork will hang in Gerringong Pharmacy’s window from September.