Milwaukee, Wis., April 5, 2022 – Further expanding access to capital for Black and Brown owned businesses, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has issued a new impact investment loan of $1.54 million to Milwaukee-based JCP Construction. The funds will support the company in a variety of ways, including growth and job creation now and for the future.

As a result of this investment and projects coming online in the coming year, JCP expects to increase both office staff and its workforce in the field. 

“The missing puzzle piece to broader economic participation and growth isn’t talent, or creativity, or effort – it’s external investment,” said Kenneth Robertson, Foundation executive vice president, COO and CFO. “The Foundation is stepping in to make resources – its own and those from donors – more accessible in communities where the practices of traditional lenders have often raised additional barriers for businesses and entrepreneurs. We’re glad to be in position to support the success of a firm that is both locally grown and known for providing career opportunities to underrepresented groups that historically aren’t given chances to advance in the construction industry, which strengthens our community overall.”

JCP was established in 2008 by brothers Clifton, James and Jalin Phelps. With a central office on King Drive and a commitment to employing a workforce that reflects the community they serve, the company is an important part of Milwaukee’s diverse business ecosystem. JCP has a range of capabilities in the field, including pre-construction services, general contracting, subcontracting and construction management. 

JCP has contributed to some of the most recognizable projects in Wisconsin, including the Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport remodel and the Northwestern Mutual tower and commons. Outreach Community Health Centers’ clinic addition is among their current projects, and they will have a role in the ThriveOn Collaboration’s ThriveOn King project.

“This loan gives us the opportunity to operate from a position of strength as we ramp up for all of the work we have projected for 2022,” said JCP co-owner Clifton Phelps. “This is the biggest investment infusion we’ve ever had, which will allow us to strategically grow. The impact is going to be great. It allows us to sharpen our talent pool in the office and increase our capacity – which equals more jobs, which equals more paycheck dollars going to disenfranchised folks in the city of Milwaukee through our Black and Brown workforce. Most of all, this is a great partnership.”

Investing for social and financial impact 

In 2020, the Foundation made a five-year, $30 million commitment to use its impact investing program to advance equitable economic opportunities. Having already met approximately 50 percent of this commitment, the corresponding investments have supported a range of meaningful projects, businesses and funds, including:

  • ThriveOn Small Business Loans
  • Gateway Capital venture capital fund
  • Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp. Five Points Lofts development
  • Near West Side Partners Travis Block development
  • ThriveOn King development

The Foundation continues to invite those who have an interest in driving economic opportunity in Milwaukee to join us in growing our impact investing fund through contributions to the Greater Together Campaign

“Foundation donors have been ground-floor partners in the creation and growth of our impact investing program,” said Ellen Gilligan, Foundation president and CEO. “Many have been entrepreneurs themselves or are champions of local and small businesses, and we share a common passion for a thriving economy that is inclusive, innovative and community-centered.”

Part of the program’s growth has included naming Kermiath McClendon as the Foundation’s impact investing manager in November. McClendon first joined the Foundation in 2020 as a program officer, having previously served as an economic development specialist for the City of Milwaukee, working with eight business improvement districts and three neighborhood improvement districts. Additionally, Kermiath helped entrepreneurs stabilize and grow their businesses as a capital manager for the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin.

The Foundation’s robust impact investing program builds on the success of a $1 million pilot program completed in 2019 that provided support for 47 small businesses, over 85 new jobs and attracted $4.9 million in additional public investment to local neighborhoods. Among the notable early projects supported was the Sherman Phoenix.

Impact investing is an innovative tool for social and economic impact that enables community foundations to put more of their philanthropic assets into circulation for community benefit. Often structured as equity investments or loans with favorable terms, each deal is designed to deliver a financial return so funds can be reinvested in new projects down the line. The Foundation’s impact investing program is an approach to reimaging philanthropy that boosts resources to underestimated and disinvested communities. 

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world. For more than a century, the Foundation has been at the heart of the civic community, helping donors achieve the greatest philanthropic impact, elevating the work of changemakers across neighborhoods, and bringing people and organizations together to help our region thrive. Racial equity is the Foundation’s North Star, guiding its investments and strategies for social and economic change. Leveraging generations of community knowledge, cross-sector partnerships and more than $1 billion in financial assets, the Foundation is committed to reimagining philanthropy, recentering communities and remaking systems to transform our region into a Milwaukee for all.

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