Presented By: JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase is Dedicated to Providing Financial Resources to Underserved Communities
Nicole Boone is a community development banker of New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) at JPMorgan Chase in Los Angeles. Commercial Observer’s Partner Insights team spoke with her about how the NMTC program is helping low-income communities in L.A.
Commercial Observer Partner Insights: You’ve been with JPMorgan Chase for two years. Talk about how working there has added to your financial knowledge and career development.
Nicole Boone: This role allows me to do something I’m really passionate about, which is community development. Providing financial resources to underserved communities — helping people that look like me — is my life’s work. I also work with a smart and supportive group of colleagues, and that encourages me to use my voice and be my best self every day, which has helped me grow tremendously.
Why were you interested in working with the New Markets Tax Credit program?
When I had the opportunity to move over to NMTC, I was excited to build a career in a field that was highly technical, but also community-development focused. I enjoy working with various types of clients, from large nonprofit and for-profit companies to smaller mom-and-pop organizations, and providing them with tailored solutions for their specific needs. You also have the opportunity to work with great investors and learn so much about real estate and different product types.
Talk about how you work with a group to help them through this process.
People come to us with projects they want to finance. We are the tax credit investors. We effectively purchase the tax credits which are used to provide needed subsidy to the project sponsor. Sometimes, the transactions that come to us are fully baked transactions. We play a more supportive and consultative role in those projects.
Are there different offerings within the New Markets Tax Credit program?
We have two main offerings. As a tax credit investor, we purchase tax credits from subsidiary community development entities. We pay in cash equity, and that equity ultimately flows down to the project sponsor. We also have our own community development entity, where we put our own tax credit allocation into projects. This year, we were lucky enough to be awarded $65 million in tax credit allocation that we will use to support high-impact projects nationally.
How essential is the program as a tool for strengthening low-income communities?
We have something in our industry we call a “but-for,” which says that, but for the tax credits, these projects could not move forward. So, it’s essential. A lot of these projects are completed by small nonprofit or for-profit businesses that don’t have the financial resources to pull off a project without some level of subsidy.
With the NMTC program, the subsidy varies, but typically about 15-20% of total project costs are subsidized through these tax credits. For small nonprofits, that’s a reduction in their debt load or the fundraising they have to do, which ultimately allows them to reallocate resources to focus on what they do best: providing services to low-income communities.
What sort of projects is JPMorgan Chase assisting?
We support a broad range of projects that help build the vital institutions and services that communities need to thrive. We’ve worked on projects ranging from federally-qualified health centers, schools and after-school programs, early childhood education programs and food banks to manufacturing companies that provide hundreds of jobs to low-income communities. We’ve also supported grocery stores and other healthy food retailers, housing, and even public infrastructure projects like parks.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in this area for you?
The most rewarding element of my work is seeing these high-impact projects get the support they need. It is really gratifying to go to an underserved community that has never had access to a quality grocery store and see that your tax credit financing helped provide access to fresh food.
JPMorgan Chase just committed $30 billion to advancing racial equity. Talk about this initiative.
In October, JPMorgan Chase announced a business commitment of $30 billion over the next five years to drive an inclusive recovery, support employees, and break down barriers of systemic racism. As part of this commitment, I’m leading a racial equity initiative specifically focused on Black-owned or controlled businesses, or businesses that are serving a majority Black population. In this case, we are able to offer premium pricing to projects that meet our racial equity impact goals.
What sort of difference could the NMTC program make for low-income communities?
By nature, the NMTC program serves low-income communities. Given everything going on around the plight of Black Americans, this will allow us to focus specifically on them, which I think is something needed and long overdue. If we can provide premium pricing, that will allow them to do more with the subsidy. I think it’s going to make a huge difference within the Black community, and it’s something I have not seen in my 12 years in community development or real estate finance.