JPMorgan Chase announced a three-year, $5 million commitment to support the Open Air Economy Collaborative, a partnership of local community organizations including Inclusive Action for the City (IAC), California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), Public Counsel and East LA Community Corporation (ELACC). The commitment will help local Black and Latina street vendors strengthen their businesses, which provide economic opportunities for low-income and immigrant workers, and play an important role to promote food access across Los Angeles County.
The Open Air Economy Collaborative will provide 500 street vendors and other micro-entrepreneurs with one-on-one coaching and over 200 vendors with low-interest loans, according to a press release. The community organizations will also help the small business owners address barriers frequently encountered when navigating the permit approval process, overcoming financial obstacles and accessing support services.
“Street vendors are an essential part of Los Angeles’ economy and street vending offers a vital pathway for Latina and Black women entrepreneurs to establish successful businesses for their families and communities,” said Diedra Porché, divisional director, California, Business Banking, Chase.
“Even with recent changes to local laws, vendors continue to face barriers that prevent them from formally participating in LA’s local economy. Supporting the Open Air Economy Collaborative will help underserved communities gain access to economic opportunities.”
According to a report produced by the UCLA School of Law Community Economic Development Clinic and Public Counsel in August 2021, of an estimated 10,000 sidewalk food vendors working in the City of Los Angeles, only 165 had received permits. Thousands more vendors sell merchandise and other goods in the open air economy. Vendors face a variety of challenges throughout the process of seeking a permit, hindering the majority from formalizing their businesses and accessing critical business development opportunities and services. For example, instruction materials are not translated into commonly spoken languages, commissary space is severely limited and equipment barriers and unreasonable regulations prevent the construction of affordable vending carts.
To achieve the goals of the three-year commitment, the Open Air Economy Collaborative will:
– Increase access to capital through micro-loan programs to help entrepreneurs buy equipment, obtain permits and grow or launch their business.
– Provide business coaching and legal assistance to help vendors navigate operating in the open air economy.
– Guide street vendors and micro-entrepreneurs through financial literacy and related economic education programs.
“We’re emerging from a global pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Black and Latina street vendors and micro-entrepreneurs. For far too long, these entrepreneurs and community leaders have worked on the margins of our economy simply due to the nature of how they earn their livelihood in the ‘open air economy,’” said Rudy Espinoza, executive director of IAC.
This three-year philanthropic investment in Los Angeles is part of JPMorgan Chase’s $30 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equity.
“We’re proud to partner to help dismantle barriers to access and ensure that Black and Latina micro-entrepreneurs have the financial and educational resources needed to thrive,” said Paulina Gonzalez-Brito, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition.
The commitment comes from JPMorgan Chase’s AdvancingCities initiative, the firm’s $500 million commitment launched in 2018 that invests in solutions to drive equitable solutions through community-based strategies.
“Cultural entrepreneurs like street vendors and mariachis are a key part of Los Angeles culture, our collective identity and contribute significantly to the social and economic fabric of our city,” said Monica Mejia, president and CEO of ELACC.