2 min read February 2021 — Solving the issue of “banking deserts” requires banks to make a decisive and focused effort to expand their physical presence in underbanked regions of the country. JPMorgan Chase is doing just that for the Charlotte area as it opened 10 new branches within the region in 2020, Brent Gore, JPMorgan Chase’s Head of Commercial Banking for the Carolinas, told Invest:. He also detailed the bank’s continued investment in the community by means of grant funding, financial education and more.
What were the main highlights for JPMorgan Chase in the Charlotte region last year?
2020 was an important year as we embarked on the first phase of our branch expansion. We opened 13 branches in North Carolina, of which 10 were in the Charlotte area. As we’ve expanded in the retail space, we’ve also expanded in commercial and business banking, which has driven hiring and recruitment statewide over the last year. We now have more than 400 employees in North Carolina.
We also continued to focus on our community engagement and support projects. For example, we provided more than $700,000 in grant funding to Central Piedmont Community College to fuel workforce development and COVID relief. And in Raleigh, we worked with the Carolina Small Business Fund, which works to provide capital to entrepreneurs and startups in the area. Finally, we invested around $105,000 in food banks in the state.
On the lending side, we also provided more than $400 million in loans, including Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans to help businesses navigate the pandemic.
What were the biggest challenges you faced during the pandemic?
The biggest challenge we faced was the transition from an in-person environment to a work- from-home environment for both our business and our clients. Our ability to help our clients by providing digital banking, payment, treasury and other solutions was critical. We’ve invested heavily in technology, and we spent a lot of time guiding our client base through the key strategies that can make remote working successful.
What are the advantages of operating in Charlotte?
Charlotte is a regional hub for us with a significant concentration of employees there serving the Southeast. It’s a vibrant, growing and dynamic market. As businesses expand to meet the demands of the city’s growing population, we have the ability and expertise to help them grow wisely, manage their capital and improve their competitive position in the market.
What were your main takeaways from the first government stimulus package?
We understand how critical stimulus funding has been for thousands of businesses during this challenging time. For the first round of the PPP loans, the firm’s strategic decision to use a combination of digital plus human capacity allowed us to fund more than $32 billion to roughly 280,000 small businesses — more than any other participating lender.
Now in the second round of PPP, we remain committed to helping businesses gain access to the critical funding needed to help them stay resilient and keep their staff employed.
Which companies and sectors have been thriving during the crisis?
The companies that were able to quickly pivot from an in-person environment to a remote work environment and were able to figure out creative ways to deliver their products and services to their client base were the most successful. We saw that happening across a variety of sectors, although technology, healthcare and consumer goods perhaps generated the strongest results. Naturally, sectors like hospitality and entertainment have been hit hardest by this crisis.
How can the financial sector come together to help underbanked communities access affordable capital?
Access to banking is crucial, and it is one of our key priorities. It’s one of the reasons why we are aggressively opening new branches in Charlotte and elsewhere, including in areas that were previously “banking deserts.” We want our branches to be close to home and accessible for everyone. In addition, training and financial education must go hand in hand with increased access because both consumers and businesses must understand the lending process and feel comfortable engaging in the banking system. We have a robust virtual financial education program called Chase Chats that focuses on consumer finance as well as business topics.
What are the firm’s main priorities for 2021 in North Carolina?
Our investment in North Carolina is part of a long-term strategy that will not be affected by short-term developments. We’ve actually been here since 2006 but began opening retail branches last year. We plan to continue to grow and build in the Carolinas. We had a strong year in 2020 and we are confident that the momentum will continue. We’re very excited about our prospects.
For more information, visit: