Making good on its promise to open in lower-income neighborhoods, Starbucks debuted its first store in Ferguson, Missouri today. The coffee giant says it "plans to open similar stores in at least 15 low- to medium-income communities across the U.S. by 2018."
Ferguson became a household name in 2014 after a white police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was African-American, resulting in an explosion of racial tensions in the predominantly black city.
Data shows that 83 percent of Starbucks' U.S. stores serve areas where the population is mostly white, and are typically found in wealthy or middle class areas. With more than 7,000 company-operated stores across America, 15 locations in lower-income areas won't do much to affect those statistics — but the company says its aim is to provide jobs and training opportunities for young people and to boost local economies, noting in a press release that "Nationally, 1 in 7 young adults does not work or attend school, a challenge that is compounded in low- to medium-income communities like Ferguson, particularly among young people of color."
Starbucks hired 30 new employees for the Ferguson store, and is also working with the owner of a bakery that suffered major damage during the 2014 riots; baker Natalie DuBose's caramel cakes will be sold in 30 area stores, a partnership that's enabled her to hire several new employees.
Providing jobs and social programs is certainly a better look for Starbucks than its last foray into race relations, the ill-received #RaceTogether cup-writing campaign.