Successful communities are built from the ground up, and every neighborhood needs thriving businesses in order to succeed. An eight-year study published in early 2022 by Harvard Business Review, titled “How Entrepreneurship Can Revitalize Local Communities,” discussed what it takes to foster ventures that revive the economies in which they’re established. The authors summarized the study by stating, “The goal is to harness the power of entrepreneurship to revitalize impoverished places.” By growing slowly and becoming strongly embedded into the local economy, the study proposes investing in ventures that lift up their communities in order to achieve sustained self-reliance. The concept suggests helping entrepreneurs and business owners can be the foundation to communal prosperity.
In Atlanta, the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) has become a cornerstone for Black people to receive tools and resources to help grow their businesses sustainably. The RICE center partnered with JPMorgan Chase — following the financial institution announcing its $30 billion commitment to closing the racial wealth gap — to launch their community Chase Lounge, a beautifully designed space used to help Black business owners level the economic playing field in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.
Jay Bailey — an Atlanta native, University of Georgia graduate, and CEO of RICE — recently sat down with REVOLT CEO Detavio Samuels on “The Blackprint” to discuss how the partnership with JPMorgan Chase has already made concrete changes in the lives and businesses of many RICE entrepreneurs. Available on REVOLT’s platforms, “The Blackprint” is a podcast show developed to highlight personalities of cultural significance who want to share details about their journeys with the next generation of business leaders, innovators, and creators.
Bailey discussed RICE’s beginnings as a vision under originator H.J. Russell and its mission to empower and inspire Black entrepreneurs. “It’s time for our community to see value… A lot of that is tied to taking that 50,000-square-foot building Mr. Russell built and reimagining its relevance to our community. How do I create this safe space for Black entrepreneurs? The RICE center is our space where we can have the conversation and places matter. Spaces matter.”
RICE serves and creates access for any type of business. Jonathan Browne, the owner of Project Casting who currently works with RICE and JPMorgan Chase to aid his entertainment platform, described his first time stepping into the Chase Lounge. Discussing his first impression on “The Blackprint,” he noted, “When I got there yesterday, I went downstairs to the Chase Lounge. I felt so uplifted… What they’re doing is amazing. It is amazing that Chase has taken the time to support great ideas like this.”
Tracy Nicole, a notable Atlanta fashion designer, has used both RICE and JPMorgan Chase to grow her business from selling online to now moving her designs into large department stores. On “The Blackprint,” she spoke on how Chase worked to build a relationship with her through their senior business consultant, Shea Taylor. “A conversation doesn’t just win me. You know, we’re in Atlanta, (there’s) a lot of smoke and mirrors! It was a courtship… And they won my business. And it was a relationship that was genuine. I felt like they really actually care. They’re teaching me things. They’re telling me, ‘OK, we can do this!’ And, they actually follow.”
If you haven’t seen the latest episode of “The Blackprint” yet, tune in here.