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Jamie Dimon Wants College Kids to Play in Downtown Detroit

September 25, 2017, 3:07 PM UTC

J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon says his bank helped fund Detroit’s new streetcar system in the hopes of getting college students from their dorms, to the bars.

That’s according to an interview the executive gave at the Fortune and Time CEO Initiative conference on Monday, while talking about how companies on Fortune‘s Change the World list are “doing well by doing good.” J.P. Morgan topped the list this year due to its planned $150 million investment the revitalization of Detroit by 2019.

A part of that has included the firm’s investment in Detroit’s M-1 Rail, a 3.3-mile line that runs from Wayne State University to downtown Detroit. Dimon is hoping that the line, which opened earlier this year, will encourage students at Wayne State to spend their dollars in downtown Detroit’s shops, bars, and restaurants.

“That [rail line is] a belief, you have a belief that if you hook those things up that that it’ll create nightlife, it’ll create business along the way,” he said. “It’s a hope and a dream. And there is nothing wrong with that.”

The rail, which reported nearly 50,000 riders in its first week, is also funded by other companies including Quicken Loans.

“Today, there is music, and there are restaurants, and there are lights,” he said. “And it’s not just wealthier people. It’s not…only the gentrification of Detroit, it’s people coming back to Detroit.”

The banking giant has been experimenting with ways to revitalize Detroit’s middle-class core since 2014, largely by channeling loans through nonprofits to developers, entrepreneurs, and homeowners struggling to get bank loans. J.P. Morgan has dubbed the experiment “philanthropic investing,” in which Detroit’s economy gets a boost, and J.P. Morgan also profits.

The banking giant has also pledged some $40 million to Chicago, and recently, $10 million to help Washington D.C.’s struggling neighborhoods.