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JP Morgan Chase: Helping Locally, But Missing the Bigger Jobs Picture

My husband has been banking with JP Morgan Chase since 1985, and I have been a customer for nearly two decades. The employees at our local branch were among the first to meet my daughter, Jenny, when we returned with her from China. Prior to our trip, the staff was very helpful with notary services and locating the $5,000 of newly minted $100 bills required by Chinese officials. With my business accounts, they are excited for me, helping me navigate a world of DBA (Doing Business As) paperwork, and forgiving fees on a late payment more than once. My neighborhood bank may have a big brand name, but the experience is very personal and local.

CareerFuel, like 70,000 other small and aspiring businesses, entered Chase’s “Mission: Small Business” $250,000 grant contest. To put this in perspective, there were 505,473 new firms created in the U.S. in 2010. Thus, a very high percentage of new small businesses applied, reflecting the extreme challenges faced by startups in obtaining initial capital.

To the nearly three hundred people and small business owners who took the time to vote for CareerFuel, we thank you. Regrettably, CareerFuel did not win. Instead of receiving a notification from Chase, we found a list of the winners online today–Labor Day. The irony does not escape us. CareerFuel, a startup created to help address the jobs crisis by delivering the information and inspiration people need to find jobs and start businesses, learned this on the day that we celebrate the efforts of our much diminished labor force

Yesterday, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman, was quoted in a front-page article in The New York Times saying that the persistently high rate of unemployment is a “grave concern”.  The Times characterized this language as “unusually strong”. The Fed is reportedly close to announcing an action plan to address unemployment. While we welcome their efforts, we also recognize that no single solution can solve the jobs crisis

Thanks to the Internet, there exists a wealth of information–a quick Google query for “job search” delivers over 2 billion matches. The missing piece is a service that cuts through the highly fragmented and chaotic landscape of information. For the tens of millions of people who need jobs, desperately want to change jobs or hope to start a business, CareerFuel offers a unique solution.

CareerFuel has done the work to deliver what people need to know to get them where they want to be. Our streamlined content changes daily to reflect the fluid nature of resources, apps, and news. In addition, our original blogs and videos profile success stories, teaching and inspiring through example. Our small business and job search success stories include a castaway from Cuba who went on to work as a legislative aide in Congress, a young lawyer who used Craigslist and contract work to gain full time employment, a children’s salon owner, a farmer, a sandwich shop owner, a lice removal business, a 3-D animator and many more. We are a consumer solution answering not only, “what should I do?” but also confronting the equally critical question, “can I do it?” and responding with a resounding “YES”!

Chase selected a number of good local businesses and we congratulate the winners. Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms according to the SBA and since the latest recession, from mid-2009 to 2011, small firms have accounted for 67 percent of the net new jobs. This sector deserves generous attention and investment. The missed opportunity was in not selecting a startup business –like CareerFuel– whose mission is to foster small business at both the local level (where we have published 14 blogs and videos profiling local businesses), and across the country, thereby improving the national economy.

Without decent paying jobs, Americans cannot save, buy goods and services, obtain new mortgages or pay existing mortgages—all ways in which a bank makes money from its retail business. The similarity in the strategic goals of both a bank such as Chase and CareerFuel seemed like a natural fit.

Over and over again, investors tell entrepreneurs to solve a big problem in a way that has not been done before. CareerFuel, check. To borrow from JP Morgan Chase’s slogan, we believe CareerFuel is “The Way Forward”.

Tell us what you think of the “Mission: Small Business” winners in the comments below.

Watch and learn how this small business owner is growing and providing jobs for those in his community!

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