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Starbucks partners on job creation program

Starbucks partners on job creation program

Coffee chain establishes Create Jobs for USA with the Opportunity Finance Network, based on in-store donations

Starbucks Coffee Co. next month is planning to ask customers to pay $5 or more toward a national fund for community business lending in a move aimed at creating jobs.

The Seattle-based coffee chain said Monday it is partnering with the Opportunity Finance Network, or OFN, to launch the “Create Jobs for USA” program.

Starting Nov. 1, Create Jobs for USA will begin accepting donations online or at Starbucks’ nearly 6,800 locations throughout the U.S.

Donors who give $5 or more will receive a red-white-and-blue wristband with the word “indivisible” inscribed.

Starbucks said all of the proceeds will go to the OFN to help fund loans to businesses. The coffee company will also contribute seed money of $5 million from its Starbucks Foundation.

“Small businesses are the backbone of America, employing more than half of all private sector workers — but this critical jobs engine has stalled. We’ve got to thaw the channels of credit so that community businesses can start hiring again,” Starbucks chairman and chief executive Howard Schultz said in a statement.

Although he has reportedly said he has no political aspirations, Schultz has been vocal on the state of the nation’s economy in recent months.

In August he called for chief executives of all industries to stop making campaign contributions until lawmakers create a long-term plan for the nation and put an end to political bickering.

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Schultz also wrote a “Letter to America” that inspired a website and Facebook page called Upward Spiral 2011, designed to “help encourage our elected officials to restore trust in the U.S. economy.”

Starbucks has recorded healthy profits since Schultz completed a company turnaround during the recession that included closing nearly 1,000 Starbucks locations globally and significantly cutting jobs.

The chain is ramping up growth again, although mostly overseas. In 2012, Starbucks expects to open 600 new international stores, about 25 percent of which will be in China. Next year, about 200 domestic stores are planned to open.

Starbucks said OFN represents about 180 Community Development Financial Institutions set up to provide financing to businesses in underserved markets where traditional loans are difficult to get or unavailable.

OFN officials said every $5 donation will result in $35 in financing to support community businesses. Community Development lenders issue on average $30 in financing for each $5 donation, and, since most such loans are repaid, donations will be re-loaned indefinitely.

The organization estimates that one new job will be created or retained for every $3,000 in donations, which are expected to result in $21,000 in loans.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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