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Starbucks opens 1st economic-stimulus store

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Starbucks has opened the first of what it says will be a group of stores purposely located in underprivileged areas to provide jobs as well as a dining option.

The prototype, in Ferguson, Mo., underscores the ongoing efforts of CEO Howard Schultz to employ the coffee giant as a platform for initiatives surrounding race and other social issues.

In Ferguson, Starbucks will work with a local organization to provide job training for area youth, utilizing a classroom-type space inside the store. It will also source baked goods from a local bakery, Natalie’s Cakes & More, which was damaged during riots following the death of Michael Brown.

Ferguson has served as a center of racial tension since Brown, a black 18-year-old, was killed by a white police officer in 2014.

“We’ve long considered how we can help deliver social impact in ways that drive our business forward,” Rodney Hines, Starbucks’ director of community investments for U.S. retail operations, said in a statement.

Some of the chain’s previous attempts to that effect, such as its short-lived “Race Together” campaign, received mixed reviews.

Last year, Starbucks pledged to open 15 stores in low- to medium-income urban areas—including Ferguson, as well as neighborhoods of Chicago, Milwaukee and Queens, N.Y.—by 2018.

Hiring at the Ferguson store will also help Starbucks fulfill its aim to hire 10,000 young people facing obstacles to education and employment, whom the chain refers to as “Opportunity Youth.” 

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