Strengthening a more inclusive small business ecosystem in Chattanooga

JPMorgan Chase is committing $400,000 to three community partners who are dedicated to strengthening an equitable small business ecosystem

CHATTANOOGA, April 28 – The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga (ULGC), LAUNCH and Pathway Lending, with the support of JPMorgan Chase, are collaborating to find innovative ways to strengthen the small business ecosystem for minority entrepreneurs in Chattanooga.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has uniquely impacted our women and minority small business owners, and this collaboration of partners is focused on investing in an economic recovery that works for everyone, “ said Stefanie Mansueto, Chattanooga Market Executive, JPMorgan Chase  “There is a strong small business ecosystem in Chattanooga and we are committed to developing innovative strategies for long-term, inclusive growth.”

JPMorgan Chase recently committed $150,000 to the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga allowing them to expand their NextLevel entrepreneurship training program. NextLevel combines business management support, access to market opportunities, and access to capital for minority-owned businesses to drive sustainable business growth.

“We are proud to offer the Next Level business development program as one of our signature initiatives to help minority-owned businesses who have reached a certain threshold of success to accelerate growth and ultimately increase their business revenues, said Candy Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. “As our organization continues to emerge, we will remain culturally responsive by expanding our reach through the ULGC’s newly established Center for Economic and African American Business Success launching this year.”

In April, NextLevel welcomed more than two dozen local entrepreneurs with existing businesses who are participating in virtual classroom sessions focused on business and strategic assessment, financial planning, marketing and sales, and securing resources. After graduating from the program in June, the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga will monitor alumni progress and extend additional support where needed. JPMorgan Chase’s commitment will also allow ULGC to leverage Pathway Lending as participants look for the capital necessary to scale their businesses.

Pathway Lending has been a leader in developing targeted loan products aimed at addressing opportunity shortfalls for minority entrepreneurs and small business owners. JPMorgan Chase is contributing $200,000 to Pathway Lending to increase their presence in Chattanooga and their flexibility in developing loan products for new and growing businesses.

“Pathway has been providing our lending solutions to Chattanooga’s thriving small business community for over a decade, and deepening our understanding of its capital and capacity needs is a matter of staying true to our vision of no missed opportunities,” said Pathway Lending’s President and CEO Clint Gwin. “This is a powerful collaboration with a promising model for unlocking opportunities and accelerating an equitable and inclusive small business recovery leading to sustainable growth, and we’re proud to be part of this effort.”

In addition to leading an initial assessment to identify businesses prepared to scale, Pathway will further engage with partners like ULGC and LAUNCH to provide technical assistance and help businesses adapt to working in the new digital environment accelerated by the pandemic.

LAUNCH has taken its financial coaching and technical assistance classes online in response to COVID-19. By committing $50,000, JPMorgan Chase is partnering with LAUNCH to help them reach more women and minority small businesses owners through their entrepreneurship classes for startups. This support will also help LAUNCH expand their new commercial kitchen incubator which is providing space for local culinary entrepreneurs to find new ways to feed their community and grow their businesses.

“I am very excited for JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to strengthen Chattanooga’s ecosystem for female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color,” said Hal Bowling, Executive Director of LAUNCH. “A greater partnership with LAUNCH, Pathway Lending and the Urban League will allow even more businesses to benefit.”

These partnerships will not only support the effort to keep businesses open throughout the remainder of the pandemic, but they will foster an even stronger ecosystem for small businesses to grow in the Greater Chattanooga region in the future.

About the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga

The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga is an affiliate of the National Urban League, the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans and other underserved individuals to enter the economic and social mainstream. Since 1982, the Chattanooga affiliate has served many thousands of economically disadvantaged persons, individuals representing communities of color and minority-owned businesses through programs and initiatives that promote educational attainment, economic development, self-sufficiency and inclusive leadership opportunities. For more information, visit

About Pathway Lending

Founded in 1999 and based in Nashville, Pathway Lending is a community development financial institution (CDFI) certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It has grown to become a major lending institution in the Southeast, propelling meaningful economic growth in communities across the region.  In 2020, Pathway Lending made more than $46.1 million in loans and delivered 15,790 hours of technical assistance and education. Get to know our mission and the stories of the entrepreneurs and communities we serve at


Founded in 2011, LAUNCH is an entrepreneur support organization that provides training and support to underrepresented entrepreneurs. Everyday LAUNCH works in their four program areas to break down barriers and create opportunity. In LAUNCH CHA, Chattanooga based entrepreneurs can find business training, support, and coaching at every stage of their business. In addition to their work with adult entrepreneurs through LAUNCH CHA, LAUNCH empowers entrepreneurship in high school students through LAUNCHing Bright Ideas; they provide a space for food-centric small business owners to hone their craft in the Kitchen Incubator of Chattanooga (KIC), and they cultivate partnerships across the country in our national initiative StartSpark. For more information, visit

About JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $3.7 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 customers 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