(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser launched Ascend 2020 DC, an initiative that will support the growth of minority-, women-, and veteran-owned small businesses in underserved neighborhoods across Washington, DC. A collaborative effort between the Bowser Administration and Project 500, JP Morgan Chase & Co., the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), and the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, Ascend 2020 DC will provide entrepreneurs in DC with the training and capital they need to scale regionally and nationally. Through its Small Business Forward Initiative, JPMorgan Chase & Co., has invested $500,000 in Ascend 2020 DC to help bridge the capital gap for businesses in overlooked and underserved neighborhoods throughout Washington, DC. As part of this effort, Wacif and LEDC have committed nearly one million dollars in financial capital for participating businesses.
“Through partnerships like JP Morgan’s Ascend 2020 initiative, Project 500, and other key programs, we are ensuring that entrepreneurs in every zip code have access to the capital, training, and support they need to grow their businesses, hire DC residents, and thrive in the communities they help build,” said Mayor Bowser. “My Administration is re-envisioning the way we support entrepreneurs and continuing to help build inclusive prosperity in Washington, DC.”
In addition to DC, Ascend 2020 will launch in Atlanta, the Bay Area, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle with a goal of supporting 350 businesses and increasing revenue by one billion dollars across the six cities. To help meet this goal, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity and Project 500 will recruit and retain at least 100 local businesses a year, with a focus on resident-owned businesses in Wards 7 and 8.
“We have heard from business owners from across the city - particularly in Wards 7 and 8, that access to capital continues to be an insurmountable challenge. Mayor Bowser set out to resolve that challenge, and paired with Project 500, the Microloan Fund targeting overlooked and underserved communities proposed in the Mayor’s FY18 Budget, and Ascend 2020, we will help businesses access more capital, faster - ultimately bolstering the resident entrepreneurs that are the life blood of our city,” said Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity Courtney Snowden
Since taking office in 2015, Mayor Bowser has committed to making DC a global model for inclusive prosperity by investing in and growing small businesses. In addition to Ascend 2020 DC, the Mayor has proposed committing $500,000 to the microloan fund at the Department of Small and Local Business Development, increased funding for the ASPIRE to Entrepreneurship program to train returning citizen entrepreneurs, set aside $2.5 million of existing DC Biz Cap funds to catalyze private sector growth and advance inclusive economic growth, proposed committing $500,000 to increase access to venture capital for minority entrepreneurs, and launched a Neighborhood Prosperity Fund that will provide up to three million dollars of gap funding for non-residential components of mixed-used projects in census tracts with unemployment levels above 10 percent.