* Google Offers to fund raise via Starbucks discount deal
* Banana Republic sales to benefit Create Jobs for USA
* Partnerships could add $4 mln to the $7.5 mln already
By Lisa Baertlein
April 3 Google Offers and Banana Republic are
the first businesses to join Starbucks Corp in raising
money for a U.S. job creation fund started by the world's
biggest coffee chain late last year.
Starbucks and the Opportunity Finance Network, a group of
private financial institutions that make affordable loans to
individuals and communities, introduced the "Create Jobs for
USA" fund in October.
Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said the
fund would help compensate for a lack of national political
leadership on unemployment.
"We can't wait for Washington," he said. "We need to do more
on our own. Schultz said he was in discussions with other
potential partners about expanding Create Jobs for USA.
The fund already has raised more than $7.5 million and the
two new partnerships could bring in another $4 million. The
total amount would support about $80 million in lending --
enough to help create or sustain more than 3,800 jobs, Starbucks
The U.S. unemployment rate has been above 8 percent since
February 2009 and touched a high of 10 percent that October.
Google Offers, a Google Inc business that competes
with daily deals company Groupon Inc, will raise up to
$3 million on Wednesday by selling $10 Starbucks vouchers at the
discounted price of $5 each. It will donate $3 from each voucher
sale to the job creation fund.
Gap Inc unit Banana Republic will donate up to $1
million from purchases made during two four-day sales events
planned for later this year. The first sale to benefit the fund
is slated to begin on April 19.
Money from the fund already is being put to work, and Josh
Davis, owner of the Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick, Maine, is among
the business owners who have benefited.
Davis had a problem last year when his bank pulled a verbal
financing commitment after he had signed a 10-year lease for a
second gelato store in Portland, Maine.
A lender with funding from Create Jobs For USA stepped up
with a loan of more than $100,000, enabling Davis to open the
store in January. It now has six employees and is preparing to
hire more for the busy summer season.
"It was absolutely critical," said Davis, who faced the
prospect of trying to borrow from family and friends or
arranging alternative financing that would have cost more and
taken longer. "Who knows whether (the second store) would be up
and running right now?"
Davis is donating $1 from the sale of pints of a
limited-edition gelato flavor to support the fund.
Starbucks CEO Schultz created a political buzz last year
when he called on his peers to withhold campaign donations to
the president and members of Congress until the government
reached a deal on the country's debt, revenue and spending.
Schultz, who returned Starbucks to growth after slashing
costs and closing nearly 1,000 cafes around the globe, also
asked fellow business leaders to pledge to step up hiring.
For its part, Starbucks this summer will begin selling
coffee mugs made at a once-dormant factory in Northern Ohio.
Many of the mugs and other products the company now sells are
made in China.
The company, whose shares have risen more than 70 percent in
the past year, also plans to build a factory in Augusta,
Georgia, to produce VIA instant coffee and ingredients for its
Frappuccino drinks. It expects that project to create 140 U.S.
jobs in manufacturing, plus more than 100 in construction.
Starbucks is committed to putting the new plant in the
United States, Schultz said, even though it would have been
"significantly more attractive" to build it in a lower-cost
"If we believe in this, this is what we have to do," said
Schultz, who repeatedly has said that he has no interest in a
government job -- elected or otherwise.
"I feel like I can do a lot from the position I'm in," he
said. "I have no plans to be anywhere else."