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UChicago, Northwestern University and JPMorgan Chase Join Forces To Grow Business And Jobs

Three-year partnership will fund new programs to support minority-owned business on south and west sides

The University of Chicago and Northwestern University are beginning a three-year partnership to support the growth of minority-owned businesses that provide employment opportunities in some of Chicago’s neighborhoods with the highest unemployment rates. Each university will receive $200,000 from JPMorgan Chase to launch new programs to support those living in underserved neighborhoods.

Collaboration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with support from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, brings together two formidable business management schools and entrepreneur training curricula focused on building and implementing an ecosystem that will support the growth of both neighborhood-based and high-growth-oriented businesses in South Side and West Side neighborhoods. Each university will work with groups of minority-owned small businesses on new programs to help them grow their businesses and create local job opportunities.

Kellogg School of Management will offer a four-day residential management educational program to target minority-owned and other businesses that have significant percentages of employees from Chicago’s under-resourced neighborhoods. The sessions focus on growing the businesses by increasing employment and job quality. Sessions include business planning, capital markets, growth through acquisition and presenting to funders. The participants also will be assigned to two MBA students as resources, who also in turn learn more about business issues in underserved communities. The MBA students will be available to the owners several weeks after the program ends. This year’s program will run July 23-27, 2017.

“The grant from JPMorgan Chase allows us to further support minority-owned businesses in under-resourced communities through our Executive Education program,” said Michele Rogers, Director, Chicago Partnerships, and Clinical Assistant Professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  “We are thrilled to collaborate with JPMorgan Chase and University of Chicago’s Polsky Center to affect change in our South and West Side neighborhoods.”

The Polsky Center at the University of Chicago will launch a new program that pairs UChicago students with business owners seeking support and recommendations for new growth strategies. These 11-week consulting engagements will be offered to students as an extra-curricular program running in both the fall and spring academic quarters. Students will work in teams to solve real-world business challenges for their client companies and receive guidance and training from Chicago Booth adjunct associate professor of marketing Craig Tirrell. In exchange, business owners will receive full access to the Polsky Exchange, the 34,000 square foot co-working facility and startup hub on 53rd Street in Hyde Park, including opportunities to connect with experienced mentors and participate in more than 450 events and business training workshops offered each year. Applications for the new Polsky Center program will be available in early August 2017, at which point both students and business owners will be encouraged to apply.

“The Polsky Center is thrilled to launch this new program and advance our mission of supporting entrepreneurs and businesses in the local community without a formal tie to the University of Chicago,” said John Flavin, associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation and head of the Polsky Center. “By teaming up with Northwestern and JPMorgan Chase, we are able to combine resources and broaden our reach for an even bigger impact.”

Jackie Dyess, president of Inter-City Supply Co. (left) and Melissa Bean, JPMorgan Chase’s Midwest chair.

Both Northwestern and the University of Chicago already have existing programs that support local and minority-owned businesses, and this new collaboration will enhance those efforts.

In 2014, the University of Chicago launched an initiative called UChicago Local to support mid-South Side businesses. The University also seeks to increase the number of minority- and women-owned firms it does business with through its annual, two-day Professional Services Symposium, which has been connecting businesses with University hiring managers since 2008.

“The University of Chicago is committed to supporting diversity and local economic growth,” said Derek Douglas, Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Relations for the University. “We are excited to partner with Northwestern and with JPMorgan Chase in this important new effort, and we are especially grateful for Chase’s support.”

Research shows minority-owned businesses rely significantly more on investments of personal or family wealth than on outside debt or equity. Only 16 percent of conventional small business loans went to women entrepreneurs and less than two percent of African-American owned businesses received SBA loans in 2013, according to a recent report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. In Chicago, small businesses have the unique potential to contribute to increased economic activity and employment in underserved neighborhoods. A recent study from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City showed that 70 percent of jobs in Chicago’s inner city came from small businesses, compared to 58 percent of the city overall.

“Small businesses in underserved neighborhoods provide most of the jobs in those communities, yet they lack the tools and resources that make high-growth companies successful,” said Melissa Bean, Chairman of the Midwest, JPMorgan Chase.  “Funding the collaboration between Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, two of the nation’s premiere universities, to expand their programs that help minority-owned businesses grow and succeed helps increase economic activity and employment in our communities.”

The Chicago collaboration is part of the national Ascend 2020 program that was developed by the University of Washington Foster School of Business.  In addition to Chicago, Ascend 2020 will launch in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Oakland/San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. in 2017. The program is part of JPMorgan Chase’s three-year $75 million commitment to growing minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned and inner city businesses.

Download application information for the Polsky Small Business Growth Program.

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