Delaware development finance panel OKs $10.5 million in taxpayer grants for JPMorgan Chase

DOVER, Del. – A state economic development panel on Monday unanimously approved a request from banking giant JPMorgan Chase for more than $10 million in taxpayer-funded grants.

Gov. Jack Markell and bank officials announced last month that JPMorgan plans to add 1,800 jobs in Delaware by 2019.

To support the expansion, Delaware economic development officials agreed to match 3 per cent of the firm’s capital expenses, up to $3 million a year for three years. They also agreed to provide up to $500,000 a year for three years to support training and workforce investment.

The Council on Development Finance asked a few perfunctory questions before approving the grant.

Nick Wasileski, a board member of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government, asked JPMorgan officials to withdraw the request. He noted both JPMorgan’s huge profits and the state’s own budget difficulties, which include a projected budget shortfall for next fiscal year that has been estimated to be about $160 million.

“You have an economic and political friend in the state of Delaware, and that’s why you’re here,” Wasileski told JPMorgan officials.

Council chairman Andrew Lubin acknowledged Wasileski’s remarks then called for a vote on the grant application.

JPMorgan spokesman Paul Hartwick defended the grant request after the meeting.

“What we think is important is the fact that we’re bringing jobs here,” he said.

With the addition of the new jobs, JPMorgan Chase would have almost 10,000 employees in Delaware, making it the state’s second-largest private employer.

JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank by assets, reported last month that third-quarter profits rose 22 per cent to $6.8 billion. Last year, the company earned $21.8 billion, a 21 per cent increase from JPMorgan’s profit of $17.9 billion in 2013.

The bank’s profits dwarf Delaware’s annual operating budget, which amounts to $3.9 billion for the current fiscal year.