NEW YORK/PARIS - JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), the biggest U.S. bank by assets, said on Sunday that it has selected impoverished areas around Paris as the first foreign focus of an urban economic development strategy it started four years ago in Detroit.

The bank will contribute $30 million over five years to programs to teach job skills and expand small businesses in Seine-Saint-Denis and other places with high unemployment and poverty, JPMorgan said in a statement provided to Reuters.

Located north of Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis has the highest poverty and crime rates in France. Dotted with large social housing projects, the area is separated from wealthy Paris only by an extremely congested highway circling the city. The area was in the center of the riots that devastated suburbs all over France a decade ago.

CEO Jamie Dimon planned to follow the announcement with a visit to the city on Tuesday. Dimon has been leaving more day-to-day operations of the New York-based bank to lieutenants while he promotes policies and public-private partnerships which he believes will promote economic growth.

His advocacy work has been primarily in the United States where JPMorgan earns about 80 percent of its revenue.

The Paris effort is part of JPMorgan’s “Advancing Cities” program, which builds on investments of $150 million in Detroit and $40 million in Chicago, cities where JPMorgan has the biggest market share of bank deposits.

JPMorgan executives have said they want more business abroad, particularly commercial lending to mid-sized companies.

JPMorgan employs about 200 people in France among some 255,000 worldwide.

JPMorgan employees in Paris work in investment banking, money management and capital markets. They do not serve low-income individuals or small businesses who could be the first to benefit from the new effort.

Peter Scher, JPMorgan Head of Corporate Responsibility, said the program will provide workers the skills needed by the bank’s business clients, some of which are in office towers near areas where unemployment rates reach 35 percent.

“That is a good bet for the economy and it is a good bet for our firm,” said Scher.

The job training will focus on the construction, information technology and environmental sustainability industries which are important in France, he said.

The $30 million for Paris is part of $500 million JPMorgan said in September that it would spend in as many as 30 cities, including some outside of the United States.

JPMorgan reported net income in 2017 of $24.4 billion.


Reporting by David Henry in New York and Inti Landauro in Paris; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

JPMorgan has helped play a role in rescuing Italy's most troubled bank. Reuters