JPMorgan Chase & Co. has committed $500,000 for small businesses in New Orleans hit the hardest by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The $500,000 investment will fund relief efforts by the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), which will work in partnership with a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Growth Capital Consortium that includes NewCorp, Inc., TruFund Financial, and LiftFund.

In 2019, NOLABA partnered with JPMorgan Chase to launch a new program designed to help grow local small businesses owned by people of color to $10 million enterprises. InvestNOLA is the local version of the JP Morgan Chases’s national small business growth program, Ascend.

Janie Barrera is president & CEO of LiftFund, which is already serving businesses through its COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“We are proud to partner with the New Orleans Business Alliance, JPMorgan Chase and other CDFIs in our community to reach our mutual goal of lifting minority entrepreneurs to prosperity,” Barrera said.

The CDFI Consortium is a part of InvestNOLA, the New Orleans implementation of the JPMorgan Chase national initiative, Ascend, which works with high growth-potential businesses owned by people of color with minimum annual revenues of $1 million with the goal of helping them scale to $10 million within five years. 

“It is critical we support our local small businesses in this time of crisis,” said Katie LeGardeur, Louisiana market leader for JPMorgan Chase. “We are proud to leverage the national Ascend framework to reach the businesses that need it most.”

Vaughn Fauria, executive director/president of NewCorp, Inc, the city’s only locally-based non-profit CDFI, said the local small business community has never faced the uncertainty of a global virus pandemic.

“JPMorgan Chase has taken a hands-on, aggressive approach to solving chronic business challenges that have been laid bare by COVID-19,” Fauria said. “This commitment to the city of New Orleans will provide access to capital to support business sustainability and recovery, interactive technologies, and advisory services designed to help small businesses to thrive in the new economy.”

The program is designed to accelerate scale in high-growth potential businesses by connecting them to public- and private-sector opportunities, innovative capital products and advanced business-management education developed by Tulane and Xavier universities. Interested business owners can send an inquiry to for more information.

“COVID-19 has amplified many of the longstanding economic challenges faced by entrepreneurs of color; challenges that candidly pose a dire threat to all businesses,” said NOLABA President & CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr. “Assisting these businesses helps to create wealth for entrepreneurs and employees alike, enhancing the economic security of all New Orleanians. As a public-private economic development organization, we are continually striving to develop resources that address areas of economic disparity and inequity.”

TruFund Financial, whose mission is to stimulate economic development in underserved communities by providing innovative financial solutions and hands-on technical assistance, has directly responded to the aftermaths of Louisiana disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and the 2016 floods.

“The Ascend New Orleans partnership will help these disadvantaged business owners and bridge the gap to other available resources. This initiative will give small business owners a fighting chance to maintain operations during this uncertain time,” said James H. Bason, president & CEO of TruFund Financial Services, Inc.

The New Orleans Tribune

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