JPMorgan Chase Invests $700,000 In New Orleans’ Growing Entrepreneurial Ecosystem


NEW ORLEANS, La. — JPMorgan Chase & Co. is investing $700,000 to fund the growth of New Orleans’ entrepreneurial economy, emphasizing support of women and minority-owned businesses as a key priority as the city enters its tricentennial year.

Women of color are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in the U.S., with more than 1.5 million businesses (a 322 percent increase since 1997), yet they receive less than 1 percent of all venture investment. They are also far less likely to have the wealth, financial safety net, or friends and family network other entrepreneurs rely on to launch and grow their businesses.

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“There’s a striking emergence of entrepreneurial talent in our city,” said Katie LeGardeur, Managing Director and Market Leader for JPMorgan Chase. “We know that when we support entrepreneurs, we support prosperity, job creation and economic opportunity. Business owned by women of color are a rapidly-expanding sector of America’s economy. And by investing in these startups, we can help create real, inclusive growth.”

The announcement will be made today at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, produced by The Idea Village. In addition to being this year’s presenting sponsor, JPMorgan Chase is one of the longest standing corporate partners of The Idea Village and one of the earliest funders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Orleans.

“Through JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to entrepreneurship in New Orleans, they have been an incredible partner over the years. We’re so grateful for their continued support of this vibrant ecosystem we kick-started together,” said Sally Forman, Acting CEO of The Idea Village.

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The three investments include:

  • Recognizing the vital role of water in the city’s past and future, Propeller will receive  $300,000 to increase the participation of women and entrepreneurs of color in water, provide targeted technical assistance, and develop a data management and evaluation system that will inform practices around driving equity in the sector. The commitment builds on previous support for the water cluster in Propeller’s Startup and Growth Accelerator programs.

  • Good Work Network will receive $300,000 to increase inclusion of women and entrepreneurs of color in the region’s economic growth, expanding efforts to pair them with corporations, institutions and city governments in both New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Since its inception, GWN has provided business development services to a client base that’s 86% minority-owned, 67 % female and 65% low income.

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  • $100,000 goes to the Good Jobs Initiative of Camelback Ventures. Camelback will support entrepreneurs of color and women in increasing their revenue, cash-buffer days and ability to create good jobs.

“This is an investment in creating a better New Orleans,” said Camelback Ventures Founder and CEO Aaron Walker. “It’s one thing to celebrate job growth in our city, but it’s another thing to create really good jobs that allow families to take care of their kids, put money away for a rainy day, save for college and enjoy a better quality of life.”

According to research from the Data Center,there are 495,300 people in metro New Orleans earning below the living wage, of which 55 percent were working-age adults, Walker said. To combat these challenges, Camelback will select up to 12 entrepreneurs that create good jobs focusing on industries that have the highest job growth, including business services, transportation and logistics, digital media, hospitality and tourism.

The $700,000 in local commitments by JPMorgan Chase is part of the bank’s nationwide Small Business Forward initiative, a five-year, $150 million program to help small businesses run by women, minorities and veterans with both the capital and technical assistance needed to grow.

"We are grateful to have JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a partner in our ongoing work to grow and support a diverse cluster of water entrepreneurs. Systemic change in the water sector is an intensive, multi-step process, and this investment makes every step possible- from accelerators and policy work to sponsoring this week's water pitch competition at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week," said Propeller Executive Director Andrea Chen.

JPMorgan Chase is a long-time supporter of Good Work Network and its Connect Works program, which has connected local, minority-owned businesses to hundreds of contracts valued at more than $54 million in both public and private sectors.

"Inclusion gives diversity voice. It is more than the mere acknowledgement of differing perspectives and talents – it is the valuing and seeking out that diversity for a stronger organization, community and economy,” said Hermione Malone, Executive Director of Good Work Network. “By leaving up to half of the population out of the sphere of opportunity, the whole will never be as strong or prosperous as it can be. Inclusion says, ‘You matter  – not more than me or less than me, but as much as I do.’"

The investments will be announced Monday during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, prior to a panel discussion about Economic Inclusion and Growth Strategies for Small Business. Ted Archer, Small Business Program Officer at JPMorgan Chase, will moderate the discussion that will start at 10:45 a.m. at The Shop At The Contemporary Arts Center. The  panel will include representatives of NewCorps Inc., ACCION USA, and the Institute for a Competitive Inner City.

"Conversations like the one hosted by JPMC are critical to continuing to make the case for an inclusive economy. There also is a credibility that comes to the conversation when a global financial leader gives inclusion voice,” Malone added. “Chase's support of both capacity building for minority entrepreneurs and of leveling the playing field by challenging systems that act as barriers to minority small business growth have been invaluable in greater New Orleans."

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