Key to Urban Growth: Government, Business and Non-Profits Working Together
By Peter Scher, Head of Corporate Responsibility, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
December 10, 2014 - As part of Politico's "What Works" series*, mayors from 13 cities traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to participate in a "What Works Summit" that focused on innovative ideas to leverage what's working across America to help more cities grow and prosper. At JPMorgan Chase, we view partnership with America's cities as central to our firm's mission, a primary focus of our corporate responsibility efforts, and key to growth of the global economy.
Our global business has given us insights into the challenges and opportunities facing cities all over the world. We need to put that knowledge to work because as cities grow and evolve, none of us can afford to be on the sidelines.
It would be hard to understate the fundamental importance of cities to our nation and economy. The New York Times Magazine declared last year, "if we save our cities, we will save the world." When three quarters of America's GDP comes from just 100 metropolitan regions, we recognize that our investment in cities can have a real and lasting impact.
The "What Works" series has helped to shine a bright light on many of the ideas that can drive the future of cities. That's why we partnered with Politico to sponsor the series, and why we have made significant investments in supporting cities around the world. It is at the city and community level where we see many examples of government and the private and nonprofit sectors working together to address complex problems. There are many shining examples of progress at the local level.
Our Global Cities Initiative with the Brookings Institution – to help American cities compete more effectively in the global economy -- is at the center of many of our firm's efforts. Mayors are at the heart of this initiative, and they have consistently reminded us that they are facing numerous and complex challenges. They need new ideas. They need innovative initiatives. And they are eager to learn about what's working in other cities that can help guide their own futures.
We are starting to glimpse a possible future in Detroit. JPMorgan Chase has made a significant investment in Detroit. Earlier this year we committed $100 million to support the city's recovery – and have already deployed over $20 million of that. But we know that our real contribution goes well beyond the money.
We created our own Detroit Service Corps and last month sent 12 of our top managers to Detroit to work with local nonprofits to help them improve their performance. These managers came from all over the world with expertise in finance, debt management, business strategy and operations.
The team was immediately struck by the spirit of innovation in Detroit.
One of our Detroit Service Corps executives works in our Investment Bank in New York but actually started his career in Detroit. He told us he had "never seen an entrepreneurial spirit like what he saw in Detroit." He wrote on our company's blog: "We've been invited to be part of the solution. The pictures I've taken are not of vacant spaces, but capture memories of vibrant buildings, busy markets, new office space, colorful neighborhoods and great people."
A second Service Corps executive, from our Asset Management group in Brazil, summed up the new spirit in Detroit by describing it as a "city of doers."
One of the key challenges we have heard from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and mayors across the country – a challenge that is holding back economic growth and job creation -- is the need for a better skilled workforce.
One out of every three unemployed Americans does not have a skill set necessary for available jobs. So we see the skills gap as impeding the economic growth of our cities. Last year we launched New Skills at Work, our firm's $250 million global initiative to help close the skills gap and create greater opportunity for more people.
But again, we know that we can provide more than just our financial resources. We're using our position as a financial advisor to top companies and industries to develop actionable plans to give more Americans the skills they need for the jobs that will exist. We're providing cities with data and collaboration with the largest employers so that more people are trained for the jobs needed in today's economy.
We know that we are only one part of the solution, but we also believe that our firm, and the business community as a whole, needs to do even more, particularly at a time when the federal government is doing even less. Business in the 21st century needs to provide real leadership – to use the capabilities that make them successful -- to address the real challenges facing our cities and communities, leadership that provides hope for a better future for more Americans.
* JPMorgan Chase & Co. is proud to present POLITICO Magazine's "What Works" series, a yearlong, independently reported editorial series on the innovative ideas coming out of America's cities.