While small business owners may not feel like every big bank has their best interests at heart, JPMorgan Chase seems to be trying to change that perception. The company recently announced its $30 million “Small Business Forward” initiative, to be spread over 5 years.
The initiative is focused on supporting small businesses with the goal of having them grow faster, create jobs, and strengthen local economies.
Focus on Small Business Clusters
Curious where that $30 million goes?
Much of it will be invested into small business clusters in major metropolitan areas like Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Newark, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, and St Louis. An example of these clusters is the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, a tech incubator that supports life science entrepreneurs.
In an email interview, Mark Rigdon, Senior Program Director for JPMorgan Chase said:
“This initiative will help small businesses draw on local competitive advantages that clusters can help identify and provide to them such as research and development, infrastructure and workforce training and other resources that are necessary for business and local economic growth.”
He said the company’s focus is on nonprofit organizations that work with small businesses concentrated in single sectors. JPMorgan Chase will be making additional commitments over the next few months and years in additional markets in the U.S. and abroad.
The Five Year Plan
Because this program will stretch out over five years, there are several rollouts JPMorgan will initiate. Rigdon explained:
“First, this commitment will help improve networking by connecting participating small businesses with investors, mentors, competitors and customers. Second, it will provide access to partnerships with colleges and universities that help drive industry research and innovation. Next, Small Business Forward will open doors to workforce and management training that gives small businesses access to the skilled employees and managers they need to grow. Finally, the clusters we support will offer access to supplier networks that provide specialized products and services to cluster businesses as well as export promotion to help enter new markets and source new customers and suppliers.”
How You Can Benefit
Rigdon is quick to tout the benefits of small business clusters. He uses the example of LA Cleantech , one of the small business clusters JPMorgan Chase is supporting in Los Angeles, committed to a greener economy.
“In less than three years, LA Cleantech has helped more than 30 companies create 400 new jobs, raise $40 million in capital and generate more than $90 million in long-term economic value for the City of Los Angeles.”
So everyone living in or near these funded communities stands to benefit. Of course, entrepreneurs working with these funded clusters are likely to gain the most. Not sure if there’s a small business cluster near you? Check out these resources:
- The Cluster Initiative Network 
- Your local Chamber of Commerce
- The Small Business Administration 
A better overview of the program should help you determine if and how your business could fit in.
JPMorgan  Photo via Shutterstock