On a Little Havana block not far from bakeries and other small businesses, there is a place where residents of the Miami neighborhood can access Wi-Fi or get critical personal finance information such as tips to improve their credit score.
On Wednesday, blue and white balloons floating overhead gave it a celebratory look.
It wasn’t the opening of a new local public library, however. It was the Florida debut of a Chase Bank community financial center, a reimagined branch that combines offering traditional banking products and services for consumers and small businesses with space for financial literacy classes and a technology bar.
“This building is a reflection of the people that live here,” said Diedra Porché, US head of community business development at JPMorgan Chase. “We’re truly committed to taking community banking to community building. force to better the lives of people in communities like Little Havana. ”
The community financial centers are a new Chase national concept focused on improving financial health and wellness of the people and businesses that surround them in underserved communities.
They’re starting to open as part of the bank’s $ 30 billion commitment to advance racial equity and economic development in Black, Hispanic and Latino communities. The community center branches are staffed by local experts focused on offering free financial workshops and events to help residents, local businesses and nonprofits.
Porché called the site in Little Havana a cornerstone for a vibrant community that has lacked financial and related educational resources.
The interior design of the community financial center differs from that of an old-school bank branch with teller windows, small offices and cubicles. Instead, it has booths for people to sit in like they would at a popular eatery. Also, couches allow customers. to sit next to Chase bankers and converse about savings accounts and commercial lines of credit in a friendly, informal setting. Visual art from local artists like the mural of a rooster on one wall give the center — bank branch — a different sort of energy than one would typically expect at a financial institution.
Chase has hired 150 community managers to serve urban communities like Little Havana throughout America. Managers like Little Havana resident Jackie Gutierrez will lead a team working in each community center.
“It’s going to give resources and tools to our community,” Gutierrez said of the community financial center in Miami. “Often times, our communities are afraid to raise their hand or ask questions because culturally we don’t do that. We’re here to provide a space where people can feel comfortable. ”
Little Havana’s community financial center is really a model for what Chase plans to roll out nationwide. Besides being the first Florida Chase customer branch converted to this banking concept, the Little Havana location is the first community center the bank opened in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood anywhere in the country. Chase has given priority to inner city Miami as a place for the banking corporation to assist residents with financial literacy, missing homeownership and closing the racial wealth gap.
Regarding actions to that end, Chase has committed to providing 15,000 loans to minority-owned small businesses, and is also offering $ 5,000 home-buyer grants to assist families with closing costs or down payments on homes.
In addition, JP Morgan Chase is a partner in a broad effort in Miami-Dade County to give many more opportunities in the area’s burgeoning technology sector to minority residents, including women of color. During the banking giant’s CEO Jamie Dimon’s April visit to Miami Dade College , he announced the company’s involvement in a five-year $ 100 million Tech Equity Miami program.
“We also do entrepreneur-of-color funds to help Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs generate and start to grow businesses. The next thing I’m doing is setting up a community branch,” Dimon told the Miami Herald in an interview during his recent visit ..