Chase Bank opens community-inspired branch in Oakland, helping entrepreneurs of color

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf calls the branch, "a place that's going to create community, not compromise it."
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 News is focused on Building a Better Bay Area, that includes and racial equity in the world of money and finance.

Wednesday, a major U.S. bank is making a big investment in downtown Oakland, with a new branch like no other, which helps provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs of color.

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There was a big ribbon cutting in Oakland Wednesday. It's unusual to see so much excitement at the opening of a bank, but this is no ordinary branch.

"You've created a place that's going to create community, not compromise it," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Schaaf was at the dedication of Chase's new community center branch at the corner of 30th Street and Broadway, built by local contractors and artists. It's a place to help entrepreneurs of color, start and grow businesses.

"In this center, we going to be focused on financial education, helping people do budgeting and building their credit," said Chase Community and Business representative September Hargrove.

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As we adapt to another shelter-in-place order, some brave people are actually opening new restaurants in the East Bay, saying it's an opportunity to provide not just takeout food, but jobs.

Chase says it's committed to racial equity in Oakland by supporting small business dreams, which can seem impossible at times.

"Sixty percent of all the income that African Americans in Oakland make is spent on rent, sixty percent," said Chase Community and Business representative Lawrence Bailey.

The bank says that's opportunity to help.

"Obviously COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd taught us when bad things happen, it hurts poor communities the most," said Jamie Dimon, Chief Executive of JP Morgan Chase.

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We asked Dimon why invest now, at a time when Oakland's violent crime rate is rising and businesses are often targeted by vandals?

"A bank needs to be part of the community, we have to lift up parts of the society, we started a 30 billion dollar racial equity effort, called Path Forward, we're devoted to try and lift up people," Dimon said.

Derrick Hill's Biopharmaceutical company is a beneficiary of Chase's Entrepreneur Initiative, which helped him grow.

"If you exist inside a box and you don't know there's a world outside the box, how do you get outside of it?" said Hill.

Chase plans to build six more branches like this one across the country in the future.

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