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New Orleans Business Alliance Partners with JPMorgan Chase, Launches Growth Initiative for Small Businesses Owned by Entrepreneurs of Color

The New Orleans Business Alliance today launched a new program designed to help grow local small businesses owned by people of color to $10 million enterprises.InvestNOLA is the local version of the national small business growth program, Ascend, and will be funded by a $500,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase & Co. 

The program is designed to accelerate expansion in high-growth potential businesses by connecting them to public- and private-sector opportunities, innovative capital products,and advanced business-management education developed by Tulane and Xavier Universities.

“InvestNOLA will foster a thriving environment for historically underserved businesses in our city— and help create generational economic growth,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Together, we are working to eliminate the income inequality gap for minority entrepreneurs.”

“Accelerating the growth of our businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color will create jobs where they’re needed the most,” said Greg Rattler, an executive director in JPMorgan Chase’s government banking division. “Ascend is a model for supporting small businesses that face historical barriers. It works, and we’re excited to bring it to New Orleans and drive inclusive economic growth.”

The program, which will be managed by the New Orleans Business Alliance, will bring together Xavier and Tulane universities to offer business education and management training. The program also will connect business owners to public and private sector procurement opportunities through the Business Alliance’s new online Opportunities Portal. Finally, the initiative will develop and offer flexible credit and equity investments through financial partners New Corp Inc., TruFund Financial Services, Inc. and LiftFund. The New Orleans Start-up Fund and the NO/LA Angel Network will provide investment capital to eligible program participants.  

Increasing Access for Entrepreneurs of Color

“Our goal is to offer local entrepreneurs of color increased access to the market intelligence and management education resources within our local community. We want all New Orleanians to realize their business dreams and achieve greater economic security,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “InvestNOLA, combined with innovative online tools, will strengthen our local economy by equipping more entrepreneurs with the management education required to go from promising startup to a wealth-generating company for its owners, employees and service providers.”

In New Orleans, 40 percent of small businesses are owned by entrepreneurs of color, yet they receive only 2 percent of the total annual receipts. Nationwide, the median white-owned small business has revenue 1.5 times larger than its Latino-owned counterparts and five times larger than the median African-American owned firms, according to Ascend.  

Messer added, “Increasing the number of growing companies that reflect New Orleans’ demographics enhances the local tax base and inspires our children that success is not beyond their reach. Imagine the the New Orleans economy if America’s next great Fortune 500 company was born from the dreams of an Algiers, New Orleans East or Hollygrove resident.”

A Partnership Between Xavier University and Tulane University

Xavier University and Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business will work together to customize an executive management program on business expansion, sustainable growth, cost analysis, fiscal management, human resource management, strategic planning and more, leveraging our expert faculty and network of mentors.

“Strengthening the economic health of this community is core to Tulane’s commitment to New Orleans,” Tulane President Mike Fitts said. “Ensuring equitable access to business resources is critical to the success of any economy. Tulane is proud to be a part of bringing this effort to New Orleans and we thank JPMorgan Chase for their generous support.”

“Xavier is a minority-serving institution empowering people of color to pursue higher education and be successful in various industries, which is an integral part of our mission towards building a more just and humane society,” said Dr. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana. “We are excited about the partnership with the New Orleans Business Alliance to offer executive business education and management training to local entrepreneurs of color. This initiative will be a key component in growing local minority businesses and improving the economy in our communities for generations to come.”

Originally launched as Ascend 2020, the program is currently active in seven cities (Atlanta, the Bay Area, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Long Island) as part of JPMorgan Chase’s $150 million Small Business Forward program to help women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs. Since the program’s launch in late 2016, Ascend has helped 140 businesses earn a total of $8 million in investments, which includes $5 million in contracts and $3 million in new capital.

About the New Orleans Business Alliance

One of fewer than 70 Accredited Economic Development Organizations worldwide, the New Orleans Business Alliance is the official 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit economic development organization created as the partnership between the City of New Orleans and the business community to enhance the economic security of all New Orleanians by accelerating the diversification of the local economy, developing local talent and expanding entrepreneurial opportunity. By pursuing an inclusive economic development strategy, we will create the perfect intersection of culture and commerce resulting in more equity and greater prosperity for all. Visit nolaba.org for more information.

About JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.


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