Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, said it will expand its jobs fund and enlist fellow companies to collect donations and promote the campaign.
“Washington is not doing enough,” so businesses have to “step up,” Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said yesterday in a telephone interview. Customers of the Seattle-based company have given about $2 million to Create Jobs for USA since it was created last year. The Starbucks Foundation seeded the fund with $5 million to finance loans to small businesses.
“These are like-minded companies who recognize that we all must do our part and can’t wait for Washington,” he said, declining to name the specific companies, which will be announced later this year.
Schultz has been a proponent for policy change in the U.S. during the past year. In August, he asked fellow CEOs and business leaders to boycott political campaigns until leaders find a solution to the nation’s growing budget deficit. He’s also encouraged Congress to put partisanship aside to improve employment prospects in the U.S.
Since Nov. 1, Starbucks has collected money at its U.S. cafes to help fund small-business loans. It teamed up with Opportunity Finance Network, which represents institutions that provide credit to community businesses, to form “Create Jobs for USA.” Through December, the fund has made 278 loans to businesses in the U.S.
Josh Davis, co-founder of Gelato Fiasco Inc. in Brunswick, Maine, received a $140,000 loan from Coastal Enterprises Inc., through Create Jobs for USA, to open a second store in Portland, Maine. He started the business in 2007 with a college friend and now sells Italian ice cream to more than 150 grocery stores and restaurants.
“We’ve been inspired by their story and look to them as leaders,” said Davis, 29, who used the money to renovate the new location, buy equipment and hire six employees to staff it. Starbucks is “doing something” about the economy, he said.
Schultz is sending a letter today to members of Congress and administration leaders, such as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, asking for their help to identify more ways to expand Create Jobs for USA.
Starbucks opened a net 95 new stores in its Americas division in the quarter ended Jan. 1 and said it will open 400 net new stores in fiscal 2012 in the Americas, which includes the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
Schultz said the company also will open its first Evolution Fresh Inc. juice store in the spring. Starbucks plans to build it into a national brand that “ultimately will create many, many jobs,” he said.
About 7,000 Starbucks stores in the U.S. are collecting donations for the jobs fund. The company has about 17,200 stores worldwide.