September 29, 2022
Elizabeth Baker Keffer
Executive Vice President, Chief Relationship Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
From additional profits to providing desirable jobs and creating a healthy work environment, investing in a company can provide economic opportunities for underserved and under-resourced communities.
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s State of American Business: Chicago event, two business leaders discussed how their companies are investing in a better community for all, starting with local Chicago initiatives.
JPMorgan Chase Is Going Beyond Philanthropic Giving
Investing across a company’s ecosystem can yield tremendous benefits for a business. JPMorgan Chase, for example, has committed millions over the next five years toward community investment work — strategically investing in communities with the deepest racial and economic divides.
“The $800 million commitment we made — $200 million in philanthropic capital [and] $600 million in lending and investing, specifically in the south and west side — is to get individuals, Black and Hispanic people, … into homes that economically work for them,” said Dan Sprehe, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility – Central Region for JPMorgan Chase. “We hope over the next five years [to] help 3,000 individuals or families acquire a home on the south and west side. Our business investment significantly outweighs the philanthropic investment.”
Companies Need to Make a Profit Before They Can Help Others
Earlier this year, the City of Chicago awarded Yellow Banana a $13.5 million grant to aid in community development, and in particular, focus on repositioning Save-a-Lot stores on the south and west sides. According to Adewale-Sadik, his company intends to purchase the stores’ real estate and rehabilitate it.
“Our operating costs in Chicago are going to be sliced in half by owning, rather than renting, our stores,” said Ademola Adewale-Sadik, Co-Founder of 127 Wall Holdings and Yellow Banana. “It's [also] going to add tens of millions of dollars in assets to our balance sheet. The reason I start with operating costs and balance sheet is that … there's no way you can do the good things that we're trying to get done … if we're not profitable, so we're focusing on profits first. That's sort of the dirty little secret of impact investing, right?”
Companies Are Offering Benefits to Make an Impact
Both JPMorgan Chase and Yellow Banana have made strides to aid areas with economic disparity. Speaking to their deep brand network on the south and west side, Sprehe described how JPMorgan Chase is making a difference by showing up.
“When you look at the mayor's 12 commercial corridors, along eight of them, we have a branch anywhere from half a mile to no more than 1.7 miles away,” Sprehe said. “It's important for small businesses located in those areas, as well as people who live in those areas, [to] have access to financial services.”
As for Yellow Banana, they have found a balance between servicing customers in the best way possible while making choices that lead to more profits.
“All of our employees have a 401(k) with a company match, … medical, dental, vision, long-term, [and] short-term disability,” Adewale-Sadik said. “Every one of our store managers has literally unlimited compensation potential based on how their store … does. So they've got de facto equity ownership in Yellow Banana.”
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