Community and business leaders, both local and international alike, gathered in Corktown this past Thursday, Aug. 5, to celebrate the opening of the new Chase Bank Community Center, the first such center in Detroit and just the seventh in the country. The celebration gave local entrepreneurs, like Tommey Walker of Detroit Vs. Everybody, the opportunity to rub elbows with Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of banking giant JPMorgan Chase.
Located in The Corner development in Corktown, the new Chase branch intends to make financial health and wealth more accessible by providing free financial advice to everyday Detroiters, and especially, but not limited to, entrepreneurs. Small business owners can be matched with senior business consultants who will provide mentorship, business development coaching, resources, and financial planning.
A full-time Community Manager has been hired to provide Detroiters financial workshops and other free programs on topics of credit and budget planning and more. The space itself is a more casual one, featuring local art and room for pop-up shops from burgeoning entrepreneurs.
Dimon, on hand for the ribbon-cutting, participated in a 15-minute talk prior to the celebration. He reflected on the need for such programs in Black and Latinx communities like Detroit.
“We haven't had racial equality in this country — ever. And we’ve tried so many times and we failed. And so we basically said that we’re gonna double down,” Dimon said at one point, reflecting on the murder of George Floyd and the especially damaging effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on minority communities.
The Community Centers popping up across the United States are part of the bank’s larger $30 billion commitment to advancing racial equity throughout the country, as previously announced by Chase. JPMorgan Chase first announced a $200 million investment in Detroit’s economic recovery in 2014.
Also part of the Community Center announcement was Chase’s $1 million philanthropic investment in the New Economy Initiative (NEI), an entrepreneurial development program from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The philanthropic investment is intended to promote the growth of Black- and Latinx-owned small businesses through the NEI infrastructure of entrepreneurial programs.
“Detroit is a place that is magical to me. Innovative ideas, businesses that are still standing — even though COVID tried to close their doors. It's amazing to me,” said Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 14th District, also on hand for the event.
“But I want you to know that Black and Brown communities and women-owned businesses have stood up, locked arms, and figured it out. And now, more than ever, they need that investment in our community.”
Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.