St Helens and St Marys Community bank to open on East Coas

The East Coast community will be strengthened after the St Helens and St Marys Community Bank reached its funding targets. 

The bank’s chairman, Andrew MacGregor, said the committee had been working hard to get the project off the ground for more than six years. 

“All the time you’re getting up the money you try and put on a positive front and you know in the back of your head that it is going to get there but it’s such a relief,” he said. 

“It’s full steam ahead now.”

Mr MacGregor said the bank would do good things for the community like it has in other regional areas.

“The major banks are pulling out of regional areas. People in low socio-economic and regional areas have difficulties getting loans for houses and businesses because bigger banks are just not interested in rural Australia,” he said.  

“Where as that is exactly what community banks are interested in. It really strengthens the community.” 

Because the bank reached its funding target of selling more than 600,000 $1 shares, the committee is taking the next step in the process. 

“The next step is the employment of the staff which we’re already in the process of. The manager’s position is already advertised and applications are coming in. When we’ve filled that, we will then advertise for the other staff, but we want the manger to be involved in that,” he said. 

“But also now the fit out of those plans have basically been ticked off. They have been sitting on the shelf waiting for us to get our money ... the final design will be done and put out to tender soon.”

The bank is expected to be opened by February 1. 

Mr MacGregor said there were fears in the community that the bank would not open. 

“The experience with the community banks is that they always do eventually get there,” he said. 

“We were always confident that we would get there, but I’m not going to say it was easy. It was a lot of hard work for the board members.” 

Mr MacGregor said people were still able to buy shares. 

The St Helens and St Marys Community Bank will open on the Main Street of St Helens.

The bank is part of the Bendigo Bank franchise.