The banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. plans to expand into the Maryland-Washington, D.C.-Virginia area first as it invests $20 billion in up to 20 new markets in the next five years, bank officials announced Thursday.

The New York-based bank, the largest in the nation, plans to open 70 new Chase Bank branches and hire up to 700 new employees in the region, including in Baltimore. About 20 percent of the branches will be in low-to-moderate-income communities in Baltimore and Prince George's County in Maryland and in Washington.


It plans to commit $4 billion for home and small business lending and increase its lending for affordable rental housing to $500 million in the region.

"This is one of the most important regions in the country — stretching from Richmond to Baltimore — we now have the third largest economy in the United States and the seventh largest in the world," said Peter Scher, chairman of the Mid-Atlantic region for JPMorgan Chase and its global head of corporate responsibility, in a statement.

Chase Bank currently has more than 5,100 branches in 23 states and plans to open 400 more and hire 3,000 employees, including those in the region. It has been in the Washington area since 1999 and already has started work on new branches in the area, where it already has 250 workers.

"With this will come more than just new branches," said Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chairman and CEO, in a statement. "We will lend money for affordable housing, home mortgages and small business growth. We will help customers bank and save and support business clients, large and small. And we will combine the best of our business and philanthropy to help more communities benefit from regional economic growth."

The bank also said it would increase its philanthropic investment to $25 million from $10 million now to "drive inclusive economic growth" in the region.

"Our administration is pleased that Chase is expanding its footprint in Maryland and bringing more jobs, affordable housing, and community investment," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. "This is a terrific example of how Maryland is working with world-class companies to bring about real change and greater opportunities in our state and our region, from new jobs and workforce training to small business growth."

JPMorgan Chase has assets of $2.5 trillion, just ahead of Bank of America with $2.3 trillion, Wells Fargo with $1.95 trillion and Citigroup with $1.8 trillion. Those four banks dwarf the competition, though Goldman Sachs Group, with $917 billion in assets, is closest to joining the trillion dollar club.

JPMorgan Chase traces its roots back to the Bank of Manhattan, founded in 1799 by Alexander Hamilton's rival Aaron Burr. It merged with Chase National Bank in 1955, Chemical Bank in 1996 and then J.P. Morgan & Co. in 2000. JPMorgan Chase subsequently absorbed Bank One, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, the latter two during and after the 2008 financial crisis.

In addition to traditional banking operations, JPMorgan Chase runs significant investment banking, asset management and other financial services operations.