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Local economies profit from community banks

Media Release

Local economies banking profits from community banks

Small towns in Australia are watching their local economies grow thanks to the introduction of community-owned banks, a regional development expert says.

Australian Peter Kenyon, a community development specialist speaking at this week’s Regional Development Conference in Rotorua, says that by June 2002 there will be 80 communities in Australia running their own banking services.

“One little town of 900 people is making $10,000 profit a month. When you’re getting that kind of cashflow coming into the community to use for a whole series of other programmes and ideas, then the community can only benefit.”

Peter Kenyon says in Australia community banking is an exciting new area of growth. “It wasn’t until the mainstream banks turned their backs on small towns that people thought about starting their own bank, but once they did they found it was one of the most profitable retail institutions in any community.”

Community banking is one example of the importance of local people taking ownership of local assets and resources. “Communities need to seize opportunities when they arise and that’s where strong local leadership is vital. Too often nations have underestimated the value of investing in building local leadership,” Peter Kenyon says.

“I believe passionately that you can’t build communities or regions from the outside in and the top down. You have to build from the inside out and that’ s why it is so important to have build both leadership and the skill level in a community so that when opportunities do arise they have the capacity to run with them.”

New Zealand already has a strong focus on community development through the Community Employment Group, which Peter Kenyon established here 10 years ago. The next step forward is finding ways for clusters of communities in a region to foster new economic development, he says.

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