JPMorgan Chase will spend $ 150 million on grants and loans to encourage economic development on the south and west sides, the bank said recently.
The initiative builds on an earlier $ 50 million investment announced by the bank in 2017. Charlie Corrigan, head of Midwestern philanthropy at Chase, said the money had been spent and they wanted to triple their commitment.
While Chase doesn’t have specific goals for how much money will be spent on the West Side, Corrigan said they were happy with what they were able to do with nonprofits in West Side in the past and are interested in developing partnerships. with West Side organizations they hadn’t worked with before.
JPMorgan Chase currently has a limited physical presence on the West Side. It has branches in West Humboldt Park, 4440 W. North Ave., 1851 N. Cicero Ave., and inside the Near West Side Pete’s Market at 2317 W. Madison St.
Corrigan said the $ 150 million investment will be spread over the next few years. At least two-thirds of the fund, or roughly $ 100 million, would be used for grants to nonprofits, and the remaining third would be used to help nonprofit lenders offer loans to businesses and corporations. individuals at affordable rates.
“We take a lot of elements from [the earlier] model, but increasing the size and reach, ”Corrigan said. “Our approach is to draw on research, data and community feedback on the challenges our communities face, and then partner with nonprofits to address them.”
He said they are interested in nonprofits that empower residents and businesses. For example, Corrigan said, Chase has supported several programs run by West Side United, a non-profit organization founded by a group of West Side hospitals.
He specifically mentioned the program to help West Side medical students secure internships at West Side United partner hospitals, the West Side United Small Business Grants program, and the organization’s continued efforts to achieve this goal. nonprofit to ensure its partner hospitals use more West Side businesses as suppliers. All of these programs, Corrigan said, serve as a springboard for more opportunities.
“We thought that if we could help entrepreneurs on the West Side to grow their businesses, to become hospital suppliers, that [won’t be] it’s just a one-off intervention, but it contributes to the success of companies, ”he said.
During its annual convocation on March 18, West Side United announced that in 2020 it had awarded $ 500,000 in grants to small businesses. That year, 80% of interns at partner hospitals were either black or Latin American.
Corrigan said they are also working with nonprofits looking to expand and strengthen their capacities, citing the Austin Coming Together (ACT) coalition as an example. He said Chase enrolled ACT in the Stronger Nonprofits Initiative, a program he runs with Chicago-based nonprofit lender IFF to help nonprofits with financial management and property planning.
When asked how Chase gets feedback from the community, Corrigan said it comes from discussions with the nonprofits they work with and residents who use their branches. They also plan to organize community round tables throughout the year. Corrigan said it was important for them to look at the challenges specific to different communities.
“We want to create a fairly large networking network,” he said. “We know the challenges are different on the south side and the west side, and the conditions are different in Little Village compared to North Lawndale or Garfield Park.”
As Austin Weekly News has documented over the years, one of the major issues facing the West Side is that a significant portion of residents do not have a bank account, which leads them to depend on the offices of foreign exchange and payday loans.
Corrigan said that as part of the investment, Chase would put more loan officers in communities of color to help black homebuyers and entrepreneurs. He also touted the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, which Chase launched in 2018 in conjunction with Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago and Accion Chicago to provide loans and financial backing.
Corrigan said Chase issued 876 loans, of which about 70 went to Austin business owners.
He said the grants and loans will be administered on an ongoing basis over the next five years, but he hopes the West Siders will see some results from their investment by the end of 2021.
Malcolm Crawford, executive director of the Austin African American Business Networking Association, said that while he hoped the investment would do Austin some good, he was wary of the bank focusing its investments on organizations that are already benefiting from ‘support and neglect other organizations that might need help.
“I’m still hopeful, but I think there should be a targeted approach,” he said. “I think a lot of donors or funders are comfortable with who they are comfortable with. And even if you have the pillar [organizations] and not-for-profit organizations, there are individuals and organizations that are effective, but they can’t get the resources, because of whom the funders are comfortable.