Swimming against the tide of rural bank closures, Bank of Queensland today signalled the start of its "push into the bush" with the opening of a new branch at Wilsonton, in Toowoomba's west.
In announcing the branch opening, Managing Director David Liddy also called on communities in Gatton, Warwick, Dalby and Roma to reveal their desire to have full service branches open.
"We are keen to enhance Bank of Queensland's service in rural areas with new branches," Mr Liddy said.
"We want to hear from the communities whether they want their own full service bank branch and all of the benefits that will flow from us opening there. We need to know communities like Gatton, Warwick, Dalby and Roma will support us with their custom as we support them."
He said the indication of community support would allow the Bank to identify and recruit the exceptional branch manager needed to underpin each new Bank of Queensland branch.
Finance Sector Union figures show over the past few years, rural and regional Queensland has suffered more than 203 branch closures, creating a massive financial and social crisis for many struggling rural communities. Toowoomba and the Darling Downs have fallen victim to 16 of these closures.
BOQ's aggressive campaign to extend its network throughout the State is a key element in its overall strategy to increase branch numbers by 34 to 128 within the next two years.
The opening of its 99th branch at Wilsonton in Toowoomba - the gateway to western Queensland - is the launching pad of BOQ's "push into the Bush". It adds to the two BOQ branches already in Toowoomba as well as the new branches already opened recently in Kingaroy, Springfield, Coolum, Victoria Point and Carina.
The Wilsonton branch is today officially opened and welcomed to the community by Federal Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources and Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane, in the presence of prominent local leaders including State Opposition Leader and Member for Toowoomba South Mike Horan.
Mr Horan said it was fantastic to see a bank bucking the trend and opening branches to service the people of the region.
"The Bank of Queensland's success is a result of the provision of excellent customer service and competitive products and I am confident the Wilsonton community will welcome the new local bank," he said.
Overwhelming interest from Wilsonton residents show they are overjoyed at the convenience of having their own full-service bank, rather than just a limited-service agency. Nearby towns on the fringes of Toowoomba like Crows Nest, Highfields, Pittsworth and Oakey will also benefit.
The branch will offer a full range of personal and business banking, lending and insurance services - six days a week with the added convenience of a 24-hour ATM.
Helping celebrate the launch was Toowoomba's own Star NRG dance group, sponsored by Bank of Queensland.
BOQ Managing Director David Liddy said the new branch was a solid indication of Bank of Queensland's confidence and support for the Toowoomba community.
"The five branches opened so far under the Bank's Growth Program are already enjoying amazing customer interest, lending weight to our strategy of putting customer service first and to increase marketshare by partnering local communities rather than disappointing them."
The Wilsonton branch is run by management team - locals Peter Lamb, Andrew Tyler, Greg Hooke and Mike Shore - who collectively bring to the community over half a century of experience in the industry.