Boorowa Community Bank set to mark 20 years of service

Community Bank directors Margaret Rose and Maureen Westbury with Russell Jenkins from the Bendigo Bank and special guest Dick Smith at the bank opening.
Community Bank directors Margaret Rose and Maureen Westbury with Russell Jenkins from the Bendigo Bank and special guest Dick Smith at the bank opening.

May 12 will mark 20 years since the opening of the Boorowa Community Bank - a project which rallied locals together to help make an idea into reality.

Following the closure of bank branches in town, discussions into establishing a community bank began in late 1999, with a steering committee formed in the November of that year.

There was plenty of enthusiasm early for the project, with pledges from prospective shareholders amounting to $152,850 in January 2000.

However, with a target of more than $300,000 and a March 31 deadline looming, only 115 pledges totaling $182,350 were made in February 2000.

According to Boorowa News reports at the time, "hopes for a community bank were fading".

A public meeting in the February indicated strong community support and before long, the pledge total hit $273,350.

In March 2000, a total of $305,700 was reached with 269 pledges but the committee faced another hurdle - an independent feasibility study.

By April 2000, only 20 per cent of the survey forms for the study had been returned - at least 40 per cent was required before the pledged moneys could be collected.

In May, planning was back on track with a total of 534, or 48.5 per cent of survey responses returned.

Around 88 per cent of the respondents showed support for a community bank so negotiations on a premises and staff interviews began in the latter half of 2000.

In November 2000, a premises was announced - the building then occupied by Thompson's Rural Supplies.

After a slight delay, the Boorowa Community Bank officially opened on May 12, 2001.

Well-known Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith was on hand to officially open the bank.

"It's good for business and good for the town to have another banking facility," Chair of the Boorowa Community Bank, Sue Corcoran said at the time.

"I guess it was a lot of hard work to get it up and running. It took a long time, a lot longer than we thought... but obviously it's exciting now."

Learn more about the Bank's beginnings in next week's edition of the Boorowa News.