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JPMorgan Chase lends $10 million for business initiative on South and West sides

JPMorgan Chase, Chicago Community Loan Fund, and Bronzeville small-business owners talk to a crowd about a new $10 million investment. | Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

JPMorgan Chase announced Wednesday that it is lending $10 million to the Chicago Community Loan Fund to help stimulate small business growth on the South and West sides.

The low-cost, long-term lending initiative is part of JPMorgan Chase’s $500 million Advancing Cities initiative –– a nation-wide program that combines the company’s philanthropic efforts with its Community Development Banking division.

The Chicago Community Loan Fund supports commercial real estate development and assists small businesses in getting the capital they need to grow. Primarily working in the South and West sides, the $10 million investment will allow the CCLF to hand out small business loans at a faster rate and encourage entrepreneurship.

“Ten million dollars is quite a large chunk of change and we could do a lot of things with it,” Bob Tucker, CCLF’s CEO, said at Wednesday’s announcement at the Bronzeville Incubator, 300 east 51st.

“We have a lot of exciting things coming, things that are a true community need like tech hubs, restaurants, healthy food initiatives, retail and just a lot of other exciting stuff that is going to be coming because of this initiative.”

Whitney Smith, head of Midwest philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase, said the investment will help ensure no communities are being left behind.

“There are a lot of people who don’t have the same kind of access to opportunities,” Smith said.

Corey Gilkey, the CEO of Leaders1234 and the operator of Friistyle, a Belgian-style eatery in Bronzeville, said investments like this are crucial in helping the community thrive.

“Our main effort is to inspire youth,” Gilkey said. “Us coming right here is all for the kids walking up and down the street and know that they can be an entrepreneur. So they can see their neighborhood being impacted positively by development and finance.”

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker, who was also at the event, said he was “proud” of the work being done by the CCLF and the community.

Pritzker also celebrated the idea of private companies like J.P. Morgan Chase “stepping up to the plate” and engaging the community in a way that promotes economic growth.

“That is critically important and is something I talked all along the campaign trail because we got to create jobs, particularly in the community that has been left out and left behind. The South and West Side of Chicago are among those communities.”

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.