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Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 07 August 2012

J.P. Morgan Chase Bank has made a $50,000 donation to the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative to support development in six Portland neighborhoods. Created by the Portland Development Commission, the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative created six small urban renewal districts across Portland's Eastside.

Each neighborhood is creating a development plan that aims to improve the environment for small business, to spur job growth and increase livability for residents. The six prosperity initiative districts are: Our 42nd Avenue; CullyBlvd.; Parkrose; 82nd Ave. at Division, also known as the Jade District; Division Midway; and Rosewood.

"I want to thank Chase, and I really do think it's going to be the first of many donations," said PDC executive director, Patrick Quinton at PCC's Workforce Development Center on Northeast Killingsworth Street. "We'll look back and thank Chase for being the first to step forward."

The development commission supplied each district with seed money of $10,000 to get started, and with technical assistance to develop a plan. The commission also asked each district to raise $30,000 in private sector funding, and promised matching funds to help run the program and to hire district managers.

Instead of competing against one another for corporate funds, the prosperity districts decided to solicit donations as a group.

"We've been very supportive of that effort and we think it's right to have one voice for this whole initative, Quinton said. "We hope this is the first of many such announcements like this."

Brian Stewart, vice president for community relations and corporate responsibility, said JP Morgan Chase is committed to supporting development initiatives in high-need communities, particularly communities of color.

"The goals of JP Morgan Chase philanthropic giving is to really catalyze meaningful change in high-need areas that we serve," Stewart said.

The project's success depends on collaboration between the City of Portland, the PDC, small business owners, neighbors and corporate funders, he added.

"So as you can see this type of initiative will take the combined efforts of a lot of people working diligently together. As a funder we've been able to help convene other funders to learn more about the opportunity and I would encourage them to join us in supporting this effort."

Commissioner Amanda Fritz said banks have taken big hits to their reputation in the wake of the economic crisis. So the donation is an occasion to remember that banks also do good things.

"It's important for us to recognize that Banks are really useful," she said. "They help us save money. They help us invest in our communities, and when they're good community partners they help us be successful and provide for our community. So that's important and I very much appreciate the donation from Chase."

If the project succeeds, it could encourage other similar efforts, Fritz said.

"This is a pilot project, at least in my mind. So if this is successful in the prosperity initative districts then we can do more."

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