Polsky Small Business Growth Program celebrates 2nd anniversary

Booth School master’s student Nwanyinma Nnodum speaks during the reception held to commemorate the collaboration between the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and JPMorgan Chase. (Photo by Aaron Gettinger)

By AARON GETTINGER
Staff writer

The Polsky Small Business Growth Program is two years old.

The program, financed through a $200,000 donation from JPMorgan Chase, supports minority-owned South Side businesses under the auspices of the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

At the ceremony marking the program’s second anniversary on June 13, Charlie Corrigan with the JP Morgan Chase Foundation said the program came out of discussions on ways to bring business schools’ talent and expertise into communities.

“I’ve got a chance to meet with many universities across the U.S., all fine institutions, but we have something in Chicago that I just don’t think that they have in any other city,” he said, citing the local program’s collaboration with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the strength of the local business community.

Nwanyinma Nnodum, who was about to finish her master’s degree from the Booth School of Business, discussed her experience as a student consultant for Haji Healing, 746 E. 79th St., an alternative healing salon in Chatham.

“For someone who in business school spent a lot of time thinking about … how to squeeze more efficiency, more dollars, raise revenue for these massive corporations,” she said, “having the opportunity to use some of that skill set to help an organization that I knew would be driving tremendous value for a population that’s often overlooked — a population that looks like me — was incredibly valuable. And it was really part of the capstone of my experience in business school.”

The collaboration is scheduled to last for three years and is a part of JPMorgan Chase’s Ascend 2020, which has other programs in Atlanta, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

a.gettinger@hpherald.com