J.P. Morgan Chase gives $10 million grant to Brookings Institution

J.P. Morgan Chase is giving $10 million to the Brookings Institution to underwrite an initiative aimed at quantifying and expanding the economic reach of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

The effort will be headed by former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, who will use his 22 years of experience leading one of the nation’s largest cities to help guide the effort and consult with local leaders.

“I am passionate about cities,” said Daley, who since leaving office in May has been working with a Chicago law firm. “We need our cities better positioned for innovation and growth if our nation is to succeed.”

As senior adviser to J.P. Morgan Chase — which formerly employed his younger brother William M. Daley, who now serves as White House chief of staff — the former mayor will not solicit business, bank officials said.

Daley will be chairman of the Global Cities Initiative. The cooperative venture will build on the Brookings Institution’s work to identify the economic strengths of the 100 top metropolitan areas, which together account for 75 percent of the nation’s economic output. The information is being used to help local leaders make their regions more competitive in the global economy.

The bank’s grant will accelerate the institution’s work to develop metropolitan-level data on key indicators, including exports, skilled immigration, advanced manufacturing, foreign direct investment and freight flows.

That information will be used to help local leaders better orient and market their economies to engage globally. Then the initiative will help link local leaders with potential trading partners worldwide.

“Whatever recovery we have seen since the downturn has been driven by exports, particularly manufacturing,” said Bruce Katz, director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

During the nation’s last economic expansion, growth was mostly powered by housing and consumer spending. But now, Katz said, demand from abroad for precision manufactured products from pharmaceuticals to aeronautics and medical equipment is offering some of the best opportunities for growth. And the United States has a strong competitive advantage in those sectors, Katz said.

For J.P. Morgan Chase, the grant — which, officials said, has been in the works for several months — is an opportunity to help build the capacity of metropolitan areas to expand their economies, which in turn is good for the bank. Last year, the bank provided loans and underwrote bonds for metropolitan areas totaling more than $50 billion.

With the Occupy Wall Street movement taking to the streets to protest a global financial system that its members see as becoming untethered from the common good, the grant could also be seen as a small gesture toward reinforcing the importance of finance to overall economic growth.

“We are focused on the competitiveness of U.S. cities as economic enterprises,” said Jes Staley, chief executive of the J.P. Morgan Investment Bank. “At the end of the day, that is what is going to create jobs.”

Michael A. Fletcher is a national economics correspondent, writing about unemployment, state and municipal debt, the evolving job market and the auto industry.
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