JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank by assets, said it will give $5 million to help connect diverse Philadelphia workers and businesses with well-paying construction jobs and contracts.
The donation will fund a joint effort to recruit, train, and place Black, Latino, and female workers for union apprenticeships and construction jobs, the city said in a news release. The initiative will also establish a capital fund for small contractors and businesses. It will provide technical assistance and networking to help the businesses compete for big public works contracts, too.
Over three years, the goal is to train 90 people and find them jobs paying $18 an hour. The project also hopes to help 240 small businesses create or retain 200 jobs and access more contracting dollars. The initiative is to be run by the city, the workforce board Philadelphia Works, and the public-private Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.
The announcement comes as the city tries to recover from the recession caused by the coronavirus. The city’s unemployment rate was 15.4% in August, down from a peak in June, but nearly triple the 5.9% in February, before the pandemic swept across the country. City and business leaders have also pushed for supporting diverse businesses to help fuel an economic recovery.
JPMorgan Chase said it chose to fund efforts in Philly and six other cities to support an inclusive recovery. The bank said Thursday that it would commit $30 billion over the next five years to advance racial equity.
“JPMorgan Chase is proud to support Philadelphia through our AdvancingCities commitment by helping to create more opportunities in construction for women and people of color,” Roxann Cooke, Chase’s regional director for Pennsylvania and New England, said in a statement. “This collaborative’s combined experience will add expertise at every stage — from training or capacity building to hiring and awarding contracts.”
The construction industry can offer family-sustaining careers for workers without college degrees, but women and people of color make up less than 3% and 34%, respectively, of the city government’s construction jobs, according to a city government study. The city noted disparities exist for businesses led by women and people of color when it comes to accessing capital and contracts, too.
The jobs and contracts will be aimed at renovating city parks, libraries, and recreation centers as part of the city’s Rebuild program, which is funded by the soda and sweetened beverage tax. The joint effort will also work with the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council to ensure that training keeps up with employer demand, the city said.