The Problem

While small businesses act as vital economic engines that drive job creation and economic development, many small business owners lack access to the resources they need to catalyze and sustain their growth.

“Generating economic opportunity is what JPMorgan Chase does each and every day. Our support of small businesses is one more way that we add value for our communities. By helping regional economies build on their core assets to develop thriving enterprises, we are helping to create jobs and build a more prosperous society.”

—Jamie Dimon, Chairman & CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Backpacking in the country

Why Small Businesses Are So Important to Our Economy

24 million

full-time jobs the US needs to create by 2020 to bring national unemployment back to pre-recession rates.footnote 1


of U.S. firms are small businesses(<500 employees). footnote 2

28.2 million

total number of small businesses in the U.S. footnote 3


of net new private sector jobs since 1993 were in small businesses. footnote 4


of total private sector employment is affiliated with small
businesses. footnote 5

“America’s forward-looking companies are investing in clustered communities, because they see the return on investment. Clusters speed commercially viable ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace. These are communities with buy-in at every level and a proven support structure that nurtures success.”


JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Response: Small Business Forward

We know that having a good business idea is only part of what it takes for entrepreneurs to build successful small businesses. Support systems are also important to help them access capital, managerial training, skilled workers, supply chains, facilities and new markets. When these supports are customized to serve “clusters” of small businesses working in the same sector, they provide a cost-effective, scalable platform that can benefit successive generations of companies.

According to research by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. that examined clusters’ contributions to economic growth in the ten largest U.S. metropolitan areas, “dominant clusters” outpaced overall regional growth by more than 300 percent between 2003 and 2011footnote 6. Small Business Forward, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s $30 million, five-year initiative will draw on these insights to support the formation, growth and success of small business clusters around the world that will help small business owners in a variety of ways:

Planning: Promote discussion about cluster developments, commission research about best practices and support the development of strategic cluster implementation plans.

Networking: Support forums that help small business owners connect with investors, mentors, customers and competitors.

Research and Development: Advance partnerships with higher education institutions that can support product innovation.

Workforce: Help workforce training organizations align their programs to meet the needs of cluster firms.

Management Training: Build the management skills and business knowledge of entrepreneurs.

Supplier Networks: Identify small businesses that can offer general and specialized products and services to cluster firms.

Export Promotion: Help cluster businesses access new markets, acquire new customers and grow their revenues.

Facilities: Fund efforts to develop affordable facilities that can host cluster firms and accommodate their growth as their businesses succeed.

“Beyond their vital role in the national economy, small businesses are often the source of innovation and inspiration. Investing in dynamic, local organizations that champion a particular industry takes JPMorgan Chase’s involvement in the entrepreneurial community to a new level.”


Our Initial Grantees

We have launched Small Business Forward in the following seed markets and will rapidly expand our investments across the United States and around the world:

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Manufacturing Renaissance’s Austin Manufacturing Innovation Park is developing a facility for advanced manufacturing companies on Chicago’s West Side.

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Bizdom is strengthening the environment for e-commerce businesses in Detroit.

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Eastern Market’s new community kitchen gives small business owners access to professional kitchens and connections.

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Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Free Enterprise Center will provide growing businesses access to high tech equipment including 3D printing to help them develop new products.

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Los Angeles

LA Cleantech Incubator has brought together business, government, and academia in LA to grow the city’s cleantech sector and is now developing satellites throughout California and internationally.

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The Water Council connects freshwater research, innovation, education, and business development to make Milwaukee a hub of water technology.

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The New Jersey Innovation Institute applies the intellectual and technological resources of the New Jersey Institute of Technology to challenges identified by industry partners.

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New Orleans

New Orleans BioInnovation Center is a health sciences incubator that supports promising, high growth companies.

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San Francisco

QB3 is a lead partner of BioSF, a collaboration between academia and government to develop a biotech industry cluster in San Francisco.

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Washington Interactive Network is growing interactive media and technology companies that are generating high-quality jobs in across Puget Sound.

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St. Louis

BioSTL is building the regional infrastructure in the bioscience sectors of health and healthcare IT.

“JPMorgan Chase’s support of the clean tech sector in Los Angeles is an innovative investment in our city’s future. Small businesses are a key engine of job creation, and JPMorgan Chase’s initiative helps connect small businesses with the resources they need to grow.”


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At JPMorgan Chase & Co., our goal is simple – always do what’s right for the communities where we do business and be a strong, stable financial leader they can trust. We are committed to building lasting relationships and providing innovative services that cater to their needs.

“In Chicago, we are pursuing bold new strategies to grow our economy. JPMorgan Chase’s support of the Austin Manufacturing Innovation Park is a key element of this remarkable public-private partnership that will bring hundreds of good jobs to Austin and the West Side”

–Rahm Emanuel, MAYOR OF Chicago
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“JPMorgan Chase is a leader who understands the important role small businesses play in the economic growth and strength of a community. The Small Business Forward initiative will have a lasting positive impact in local communities throughout the United States for years to come.”

—Marc DeCourcey, Executive Director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center.

Anthony Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl. Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020,
U.S. Census Bureau, SUSB, CPS; International Trade Administration; Bureau of Labor Statistics, BED; Advocacy-funded research, Small Business GDP: Update 2002-2010,
SBA Frequently Asked Questions, March 2014,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, BED. See
U.S. Census Bureau, SUSB, CPS; International Trade Administration; Bureau of Labor Statistics, BED; Advocacy-funded research, Small Business GDP: Update
Zeuli and Nijhuis, The Missing Link: Clusters, Small Business Growth and Vibrant Urban Economies, ICIC, 2014