Banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. planned to announce today that it and partners will give $6.65 million to community groups in the Baltimore-Washington region that lend money to minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to help them start and grow businesses.
In Baltimore, money will go to two groups — The Harbor Bank of Maryland Community Development Corp. and the Latino Economic Development Center — that already have roots in the community and the ability to identify good candidates for loans and technical assistance.
The money is the fifth Entrepreneurs of Color Fund created by JPMorgan Chase since 2015, with others in Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco and South Bronx, N.Y. The $36 million in funding so far has supported 200 loans valued at $9.5 million, with just one default to date.
New York-based JPMorgan Chase announced last spring that it planned to expand its operations into the Baltimore and Washington markets, most visibly opening 70 branches of Chase Bank and employing 700 people. Chase Bank has yet to announce a Baltimore location.
In November, the banking giant announced that it has opened an office of its exclusive J.P. Morgan Private Bank for high net worth customers in Baltimore’s Harbor East.
The aim of the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund is to make loans from $50,000 to $150,000 to those who would otherwise have difficulty obtaining financing because they have no credit history, uneven cash flow, a blotch on their credit score or some other issue, said Ted Archer, head of Small Business Forward at Chase who is leading the effort.
Archer said the fund also specifically seeks to improve commercial corridors through small business investment and help businesses gain access to the supply chains of area anchor institutions such as hospitals, universities and government agencies.
Chase will seed the fund with $3.65 million, and $2 million more will come from the Washington nonprofit Capital Impact Partners and $1 million will come from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Baltimore Community Foundation are also partnering on the project and are expected to provide business support.
In the Baltimore area, the fund will aim loans at minority-owned commercial and residential development firms, though the community groups that will hold the loans and provide the assistance will also serve other types of businesses.
“They see a demand and a need to do more,” Archer said of the community groups. “Many are focused on closing the wealth divide. … Oftentimes the businesses don’t know what they need. Community lenders shed light.”