Community Bank branches were devised by Bendigo Bank to serve country towns when the major banks closed their branches. The model spread fast and far, reaching Pyrmont in 2007 when a Steering Committee of residents took up the cause, as City West Financial Services. By the end of 2009 they had raised sufficient investment capital, excited enough local interest – and sizzled more than enough sausages – to open the Pyrmont Community Bank in Union Square, the heart of Pyrmont. This was Australia’s 250th Community Bank.
The profit-sharing model allows the community to retain a share of profits for local facilities and services, and helps residents and businesses to identify with “their” bank. Each shareholder has a strong Pyrmont connection and may not own more than 5% of the shares – a system that expresses the bank’s ties to the Pyrmont community.
By 2017 the Bank had returned $95 000 to support community activities. An early donation funded the Small Art Show, which has grown into the annual Food Wine and Art Festival. Other recipients include the Ultimo Public School, the Pyrmont and Ultimo Community Centres, Christmas in Pyrmont, Carols by Candlelight, the UPTOWN Festival, Wentworth Park Games, Pyrmont Cares, the Sydney Flames basketball team and the YMCA Swimming Club for the disabled.
Staff and Board members volunteer to support local groups, and are world-famous for their sausage sizzles.