WASHINGTON, DC – September 14, 2016 – (HISPANICIZE WIRE) – The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. today showcased African American and Hispanic small businesses, while hosting a discussion on the need to improve access to capital so minority businesses can create jobs in their communities and revitalize Main Streets across the country.

Highlighting the event were well-established, entrepreneurs Nely Galán, a producer and former Telemundo President of Entertainment, and Beverly Johnson, a Super Model, actress, and businesswoman. Ms. Galán and Ms. Johnson told the audience about the challenges they faced and overcame on their roads to success.

“We were pleased to have Nely and Beverly tell their stories so they can inspire others to take bold steps towards starting their own businesses,” said Connie Evans, AEO’s President and CEO. “The discussion also acknowledged the need to improve financial options for those starting and trying to sustain their businesses. We shined a spotlight on several successful businesses and the partnerships that are supporting them.”

Noting that both the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses are in Washington for their annual meetings, Ms. Evans said, “We want to remind these lawmakers of the importance of small businesses in their communities and encourage them to continue their legislative support for measures that will allow small businesses to expand.”

The event also underscored the importance of JPMorgan Chase’s Small Business Forward initiative, a $30 million, five-year program aimed at growing local, community-based small businesses through a combination of targeted lending to minority-owned businesses, new kinds of community development financing and technical assistance for entrepreneurs. Through this work, JPMorgan Chase is helping minority- and community-based small-business owners become engines of job growth and economic vitality in the neighborhoods they serve.

“The nation is recovering from the recession, but many disadvantaged neighborhoods, where low-income people live, are being left behind,” said Janis Bowdler, Head of Small Business Initiatives, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase. “A strong community- and neighborhood-based small-business sector means more local jobs and increased economic opportunity and mobility.”

Small Business Forward includes investment in the Valley Economic Development Corporation’s (VEDC) work in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles to fund early-stage minority-owned small businesses so they can expand and serve their communities. VEDC, an AEO member, provides affordable business assistance services, direct financial assistance, entrepreneurial training, and economic development to individuals and businesses.

For instance, Luis Pichardo, owner of Bella Lounge Salon in New York City, grew up working in the beauty salon his parents owned. Years, later he wanted to start his own salon. Unable to obtain traditional financing through a bank, he received a loan from a VEDC program through its National African American Small Business Loan Fund, which is supported by JP Morgan Chase. This loan allowed him to purchase equipment and hire employees. “VEDC provided critical financing,” he said. “It was just what I needed to get the salon up and running.”

In Manhattan, Spoonfed New York Country Group offers Southern comfort cuisine in the heart of the Theater District. William “Randy” Stricklin-Witherspoon has been delivering meals to customers throughout the theater district and providing catering services to Broadway shows. With a $600,000 loan from VEDC Mr. Stricklin-Witherspoon is opening a restaurant on W. 51st Street serving “Southern Fusion” style cuisine.

OC Isaac, VEDC Vice President of National Strategic Initiatives, said that VEDC understands the role that small businesses play in revitalizing communities by creating jobs and providing services and products. “Small businesses are an important engine for expanding the economy, and providing opportunities in communities of color,” he said. “We are proud of entrepreneurs like Mr. Stricklin-Witherspoon and Mr. Pichardo, who are running their own businesses and sustaining and creating jobs. We are here to help them along the away.”

The event will be broadcast live in a webcast at: http://mymajicdc.hellobeautiful.com/3645535/watch-live-tomorrow-inclusion-is-the-new-currency-hosted-by-the-association-for-enterprise-opportunity/.

About Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)
The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is the voice of innovation in microbusiness and microfinance in the United States. For 25 years, AEO and its more than 450 member/partner organizations have helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families and their communities. AEO members and partners include a broad range of organizations that provide capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing and expanding their businesses. Together, we are working to change the way that capital and services flow to underserved entrepreneurs so that they can create jobs and opportunities for all. Learn more about The Association for Enterprise Opportunity at http://www.aeoworks.org/.

About JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.