New Orleans gets $5M JPMorgan grant to boost environmental jobs and businesses
New Orleans has won a $5 million grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to boost job creation and new businesses in water management and other environmental sectors, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced on Thursday.
Cantrell said that the proposal had been submitted by a consortium of city agencies before the coronavirus struck, and the award of the grant is timely as the city copes with the economic impact of the pandemic.
“This is one of the things we were working on pre-COVID and they are just paying off dividends now,” she said. “And there is no time like now when more than 40,000 of our people are unemployed and over 5,000 are getting unemployment insurance and over 4,000 are being denied it every week.”
The grant comes out of a philanthropic program set up by JPMorgan in 2018 called “Advancing Cities”, which aims to award $500 million over five years to projects that meet “inclusive growth” criteria, such as revitalizing neighborhoods, creating jobs in key areas and promoting small businesses.
Katie LeGardeur, managing director and market leader for JPMorgan in the New Orleans area, praised local leaders for a proposal aimed at tackling two disparate and complex problems that impact the city’s residents: water management and income inequality.
“This is an opportunity to build a new and more equitable economy in Louisiana,” LeGardeur said in a prepared statement.
Baton Rouge also won $5 million for a transit-improvement proposal called “Imagine Plank Road Plan for Equitable Development”.
The winning New Orleans proposal focused on developing the city’s “blue-green-grey” infrastructure. That is to say, water and waste management projects like the “Lafitte Blueway” that aim to improve water retention and flow, as well as improve road drainage and so on.
The grant will help “pivot our city in sectors that we know will be life-changing and help close the equity divide that has kept people from reaching their potential,” Cantrell said.
The New Orleans Business Alliance, the city’s economic development agency, said that the money will be directed primarily at workforce as well as small business and entrepreneurship initiatives.
The total being allocated to workforce development is $1,749,000, the largest portion of which will go to YouthForce NOLA, which will be allocated $1 million over three years under the program.
“It’s about the training and support of our young people as we help them get real world work experience in green-grey-blue infrastructure,” said Cate Swinburn, president of YouthForce NOLA.
She said the new money would mean they can increase the size of programs like internship placements for high school students with Jacobs Engineering and the Sewerage & Water Board.
On the small business and entrepreneurship initiatives, $1,725,000 is earmarked for groups that include Propeller, a small business incubator, and Good Work Network, which focuses on helping minority and women-owned businesses.
“While some programs like Propeller’s Water Challenge are already in existence, many of the programs and initiatives resulting from this grant will be newly designed,” said Victoria Adams Phipps, a NOLABA spokesperson.