News : Starbucks to Open Stores in Ferguson, Low-income Neighborhoods
Ferguson, MO, USA, July 16, 2015 -- Starbucks officials say they will open 15 new locations in low income and predominantly minority neighborhoods, including a store near the epicenter of last year's unrest in Ferguson, Mo., as part of an effort to broaden the coffee company's footprint in urban areas where they have set a goal of spurring job growth.
Company officials say the push dovetails with CEO Howard Schultz's pledge to hire 10,000 young Americans over the next three years who aren't currently employed or in school.
The first locations are expected to open next year in Ferguson's West Florissant Corridor, Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, and the Jamaica section of New York's Queens borough. Starbucks also plans to open a store in a yet-to-be determined neighborhood in Milwaukee as well as rehabilitate an already existing store in Phoenix's Melrose District.
At each location, Starbucks plans to hire 20 to 25 young people from the neighborhood. The new stores will be designed so they can be used by Starbucks and local community organizations to conduct jobs skill training classes, said Blair Taylor, Starbucks chief community officer.
Starbucks officials say they hope the job training will give youngsters some of "the soft skills," or basic understanding that new workers must possess to get hired and keep a job.
"We are really thinking about what a for-profit company such as ours can do in addition to the creation of jobs, and that's where this notion of building this kind of a store in communities that have been disenfranchised—particularly some of the ones that have been the most visible over the last few years-- comes into play," Taylor said in an interview.
Schultz first spoke of his plan to open a location in Ferguson in April at a forum where he spoke about the company's desire to combat racism and inequality. But Schultz did not reveal details about the exact location or plans to include a jobs training space as part of the store.
Starbucks officials confirmed that the store will be located on West Florissant Avenue, about 1.5 miles from the QuikTrip that was burned down last August during the early days of unrest in Ferguson following the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer.
The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis broke ground last week on a new community center on the grounds of the gas station and convenience store. QuikTrip, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Starbucks are paying for the new center.
Taylor said that Starbucks was also looking to find ways to partner with local small businesses and vendors to create a ripple effect in the local economy. The company has already cut a deal to buy caramel cakes from Natalie's Cakes and More in Ferguson, a bakery owned by young African-American businesswoman Natalie DuBose.
DuBose's bakery was damaged during unrest in November following the announcement by St. Louis County's prosecutor that former police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18. But DuBose was determined to stay and rebuild.
On Wednesday, during a break from baking and deliveries, she said she was looking to hire three more bakers and two drivers to help her meet the expected Starbucks' demand.
"This partnership is helping me become a stronger pillar of my community," said DuBose, who plans to supply four St. Louis-area Starbucks with cakes starting next month.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said that Starbucks' arrival will be a big win for his city. The new store will sit on a development that is currently occupied by two homes abandoned for years.
"I have, and the mayor before me has, tried to put out the word for years and tried to bring in more tenants like a Starbucks," Knowles said. "But they've never showed an interest in the past. They would say to us 'What's the median income of the city?' Now all of a sudden at least a little bit of that attitude is changing."
In Phoenix, Starbucks is rehabbing a location in the city's Melrose District, an already vibrant retail corridor where local non-profits organizations and civic groups have pushed for greater economic development. Starbucks has already hosted community forums on issues affecting local youth at the location, which company officials decided was well-situated to host one of its new job training centers.
In Chicago, Starbucks has picked a location in the heart of the city's Englewood neighborhood, a predominantly African-American community which has suffered from blight and a reputation for violence in recent years.
"This is further proof that when the public and private sectors come together to invest in communities, we can create new jobs and economic resources that will spur economic growth into the future," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.
The Starbucks will open in a development where the grocery chain Whole Foods recently broke ground. While the neighborhood is in the middle of a so-called 'food desert' and can badly use a grocery store, some people have raised questions about whether a grocery store known for its organic and often pricey food can thrive in such a community.
Taylor said that Starbucks officials considered whether the business could thrive as well as whether they could make a positive impact when they chose communities for the new project.
"We want the stores to be economically viable," Taylor said. "We're looking for a three-way win here – the community wins, the individuals who are hired win and the companies win. The only way that this is sustainable in the long term is if we can get to those three-way wins."
Schultz, who in the past has spoken out on support for legalizing same-sex marriage and stricter gun laws, has signaled in recent months that he plans to use the weight of Starbucks and his family foundation to tackle the issue of youth unemployment. Roughly 5.5 million young Americans, ages 16 to 24, aren't working or in school.
This week, Schultz announced he had recruited 16 other major companies to join Starbucks in hiring a total of 100,000 such disconnected youth by 2018.
"We've been very successful as a company and we've provided longtime shareholder value," Schultz told USA TODAY in an interview this week. "But I think the real key for a successful, great and enduring company in America today is to achieve the balance between profit and social impact."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Starbucks Coffee Company:
Starbucks Corporation is an American global coffee company and coffeehouse chain based in Seattle, Washington.
Published: Friday, July 17, 2015