JCP Construction plans to grow workforce with $1.54 million Greater Milwaukee Foundation loan

Clifton Phelps, James Phelps, Jr. and Jalin Phelps

Last updated on April 8th, 2022 at 02:23 pm

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation has made a $1.54 million loan to JCP Construction to assist the Milwaukee-based firm’s growth and job creation plans.

In an announcement Tuesday, the minority- and family-owned construction company said it plans to increase the number of office staff and employees in the field thanks to the financing. GMF’s impact investment strategy is focused on expanding access to capital for Black- and brown-owned businesses.

“The missing puzzle piece to broader economic participation and growth isn’t talent, or creativity, or effort – it’s external investment,” said Kenneth Robertson, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for GMF. “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 founded in 2008 by brothers Clifton, James and Jalin Phelps. The company’s central office is located at 1849 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, near GMF’s future headquarters at the ThriveOn King development at 2153 King Drive.

JCP has been involved with several high-profile Milwaukee projects in recent years, including Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport remodel and the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons.

The firm is currently working on Outreach Community Health Centers’ $15 million clinic addition.

“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 Clifton Phelps, co-owner of JCP. “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.”

Impact investing allows GMF to put more of its philanthropic assets into circulation for community benefit, the foundation said. The financing is often structured as equity investments or loans with favorable terms so funds can be reinvested in new projects in the future.

In 2020, GMF committed to dedicate $30 million over five years to its impact investing program. To date, it’s met about half of that commitment, with investments in ThriveOn small business loans, Gateway Capital’s venture capital fund, the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp. Five Points Lofts development, the Near West Side Partners Travis Block development and ThriveOn King development.

“Foundation donors have been ground-floor partners in the creation and growth of our impact investing program,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of GMF. “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.”

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