Black Entrepreneurs Get Help Making Georgia the 'Silicon Valley of the South' - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

JPMorgan Chase is setting out to make substantial waves in the small business world for women business owners and black entrepreneurs in the state of Georgia by helping Atlanta make strides to catch up with Silicon Valley when it comes to the tech and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

According to a recent press release, JPMorgan Chase recently announced its plans to make some major investments to help spike substantial growth within the community. These initiatives include opening 40 branches over the next three years in Georgia and creating up to 200 local jobs. The bank will also expand into Savannah and Athens in the next 18 months, but that’s not all.

The corporation also plans to help women business owners and entrepreneurs of color in the city of Atlanta through some pretty extraordinary contributions.

In addition to expanding its branch network, the bank will invest $640,000 in ASCEND Atlanta, a local small business support system that is set up to increase access to capital, training, and markets for hundreds of women business owners and black entrepreneurs in Atlanta. This brings the bank’s total investment in this program to more than $1 million in the last two years.

JPMorgan Chase initial contribution was to the launch of the program in 2017 through a $400,000 investment in the Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center, which targeted early-stage, minority tech startups. This new investment will expand the program to include two additional tracks of businesses: community-based micro businesses in the Southside of Atlanta, and small to midsize firms that can support the supply chain of Fortune 500/1000 companies in Georgia.

“I would like to thank our community partner JPMorgan Chase for supporting the programs of the Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center, which has become a leader in providing training and expert advice to minorities interested in launching businesses in the technology field,” said Dr. David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College in a statement. “The $1 million investment in the ASCEND Atlanta initiative has helped minority entrepreneurs to gain the support necessary to open their doors, hire employees, and improve their products and services so that they can become thriving contributors to the local economy.”

Additionally, this rollout will consist of forming partnerships designed to provide resources and capital to help these businesses grow.

Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center will partner with Tech Square Labs to develop an accelerator program for early-stage technology startups, provide management training and technical assistance for microbusinesses, and offer one-on-one management consulting to help small and midsize businesses secure contracts from large Georgia businesses.

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs will provide microloans to community-based businesses, including larger loans up to $250,000 for technology startups and up to $1 million for eligible midsize businesses.

Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative will help small businesses in South Atlanta gain access to markets by using its existing relationships with private and public partners including the Atlanta BeltLine and Invest Atlanta to inform procurement policies and secure contract opportunities for businesses of color.

TechSquare Labs will lead the recruitment of tech startups, and also help small and midsize businesses become more tech-enabled.

Village Micro Fund will offer micro-businesses back office support, including legal, accounting, and sales services.

“Helping lead Atlanta-area women business owners and entrepreneurs of color through the process of obtaining capital, with continued coaching and connections throughout the life of the loan is what ACE does best,” said Grace Fricks, president and CEO of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs in the release. “Our mission, since 2000, has been to help underserved business owners create and grow sustainable businesses that generate jobs, and we are excited to continue this work with JPMorgan Chase and ASCEND Atlanta.”