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Growing Small Business

Small businesses are vital to Detroit's recovery.

They are creating jobs, contributing to diverse and vibrant neighborhoods and a thriving urban core, stimulating innovation and powering the regional economy. That is why JPMorgan Chase is supporting efforts aimed at helping Detroit’s entrepreneurs get the resources they need to start and expand their businesses.

We are helping small business owners not only access capital but, equally critical, develop the technical skills and networks they need to survive and grow. From the culinary entrepreneurs who have access to a new commercial kitchen facility in Eastern Market to small business owners who are putting the skills they learned in TechTown’s Retail Boot Camp into use in their neighborhoods, our support is helping make Detroit a dynamic hub for young businesses.

Detroiters Lead the Pack in Spending at Small Businesses
The JPMorgan Chase Institute’s Local Consumer Commerce Index illuminates the vitality of Detroit’s small business community: In December 2015, Detroit was the clear winner among the 15 U.S. cities in the Index in terms of consumer spending at small businesses.

The Index also showed the critical contribution Detroit’s small business sector is making to local economic growth. For two years running, small businesses have led the way in Detroit’s business community in contributing to growth in consumer spending.

Note: The JPMorgan Chase Institute’s Local Consumer Commerce Index is a measure of the monthly year-over-year growth rate of everyday debit and credit card spending by over 50 million anonymized Chase customers across 15 U.S. cities. For more information, see

The Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund at Macomb Community College, powered by JPMorgan Chase, is a $2.7 million effort to stimulate economic development and job growth among promising Detroit area entrepreneurs and next-stage companies with high-growth potential. Entrepreneurs who receive funding also get access to mentoring and other support. In return, they provide internships or learning experiences for Macomb Community College students. Support for the Fund is provided by Macomb Community College’s Strategic Fund and JPMorgan Chase. In March 2016, the Fund announced its third cycle of awards, representing a total of $800,000 to 13 companies.

A Small Business That is Helping Turn On the Lights

For Martin and Angel Paris, a husband and wife team that started their own electrical design and construction company in Detroit in 2012, it was a dream opportunity: The City of Detroit awarded their fledgling small business, Power, Lighting and Technical Services (PLTS), a three-year contract to repair and maintain exterior lighting.

"The Mayor of Detroit is doing a wonderful job getting the city’s lights back on," says Martin. "We were hired to go to all the city properties to make sure the lights are operating."

Not long into the contract, however, Martin and Angel ran into a problem. When the substation at Hart Plaza went out, they needed to hire a subcontractor with the expertise to fix the components. But the subcontractor wanted to get paid right away, and PLTS wouldn’t have the money in the bank to do so until it received its next payment from the City in 30 to 40 days.

"So we had to tell the City we couldn’t do the job," says Martin. "It was embarrassing. Luckily, the City didn’t cancel the contract with us."

When one of Martin and Angel’s contacts at the City heard about what happened, he told them about the Entrepreneurs of Color (EOC) Fund, a $6.5 million program managed by Detroit Development Fund (DDF), a nonprofit CDFI, with funding from JPMorgan Chase and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Launched in 2015, the goal of the EOC Fund is to assist businesses that lack access to traditional forms of credit and capital. It provides financing, as well as training and consulting services to strengthen core business operations for Detroit-based neighborhood businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color and businesses that primarily hire people of color. To date, the EOC Fund has provided $1.3 million in financing – in the process, helping to create or preserve more than 130 jobs in the city.

"The Mayor of Detroit is doing a wonderful job getting the city lit back up."
Martin Paris
Co-owner Power, Lighting and Technical Services

Martin and Angel reached out to DDF, and – fast forward a few months and a good amount of paperwork later – they secured a $100,000 line of credit. The EOC Fund also gave them a loan to purchase a vehicle that lifts a service technician to do overhead lighting work – a piece of equipment PLTS previously had to spend significant amounts of money renting.

"This is our first and only line of credit or loan for our company," says Angel. "Prior to this, we were running the business out of our pocket, with whatever we made on our jobs, credit cards and whatever savings we had."

While financing from the EOC Fund is helping the company better manage cash flow, the process itself also left a positive imprint. "Applying for the funding made us realize our recordkeeping wasn’t where it should have been," says Martin. "Working with DDF to get everything in order was practice for us to be a better business. We are now a lot better at keeping up with our records and our financials than we were a year ago."

Today, Martin and Angel are running a thriving business with eight full-time, permanent employees and contracts in place not only with the City but also with a range of other customers. While their services are in high demand, the Parises are taking a careful approach to growing their business. As Martin notes, for small businesses like theirs, it can be disastrous if customers fail to pay in a timely manner – or pay at all – something Martin laments is not uncommon in the construction industry.

"I cannot overemphasize how cautious we are,” says Martin. “We’ve been very selective about who we work for. But it’s working out for us. We have a very good group of customers. They take care of business, and we take care of them."

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