JPMorgan cash backs training, investment in Detroit

Daniel Howes
The Detroit News

Nine months after committing $100 million to support economic development, blight removal and job training in Detroit, JPMorgan Chase & Co. is putting its cash to work.

The Wall Street giant — the largest player in the Detroit market — so far has disbursed $32 million in the form of investments and grants, including a $1.2 million grant to Focus: HOPE to support college engineering programs and expansion of its Machinist Training Institute.

JPMorgan also tasked IT, human resources and finance professionals from its sites in Houston, Mumbai and the Philippines to help Focus: HOPE improve its job training programs, effectively augmenting the bank's money with its intelligence.

"It's in our interest that Detroit do well," Chairman Jaime Dimon said in an interview Wednesday, the second day of a visit to check on the New York bank's program here — its largest such program in the country.

"We want to see Detroit revive and thrive," he continued. "Detroit is one of the major American cities that hasn't recovered. We've never done a comprehensive thing like this in a city. I don't (care) about naysayers. People love what we're doing in Detroit."

That includes Mayor Mike Duggan, who toured Eastern Market Wednesday with Dimon. Duggan credits the financial powerhouse with delivering on its promise to support investment, offer rehab loans and provide managerial know-how.

"They are now hitting the point where they are affecting the city in so many positive ways," the mayor said. "When you get to that point, you know you've got something."

JPMorgan's effort mirrors similar, if smaller, efforts by such financial heavyweights as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to bolster Detroit's nascent recovery with support for small business owners, would-be entrepreneurs and organizations that aim to train workers for next-generation work.

"Detroit has a mayor that's a force of nature," Dimon said, between bites of Supino's pizza. "If we didn't feel the mayor could do" what he's setting out to do, "we wouldn't have made this kind of investment."