Metro Atlanta’s newest Starbucks location in Jonesboro will be a little different from the chain’s usual stores when it opens Friday.
In addition to selling lattes, croissants and jazz CDs with performances by Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, the Jonesboro location will be a training center for local employment programs and act as a connection point for non-profit groups by hosting events in a meeting room built specifically for community gatherings.
The meeting room also will be used for training aimed at promoting economic activity, job creation and education in the south metro community.
The Seattle-based coffee giant is opening Jonesboro as a “community” store, one of 14 around the nation that operate in underserved and economically challenged areas.
“Community” stores differ from traditional locations in that they are built by or receive supplies from minority- or women-owned contractors and hire the majority of employees from the area in which they serve. They also incorporate local features — such as the three mixed-media collage portraits from Marryam Moma, a Tanzanian-Nigerian born Atlanta artist that are part of the Jonesboro store.
“Ninety percent of the people who work here, live right in the community,” said store manager Trent Allen, adding that a typical Starbucks store would have about 60 percent of workers from the surrounding area. “And we’re tied in with certain non-profits and working with them to do give-backs to the community by helping them with their projects.”
That support could be critical to Clayton residents who are struggling to find jobs or pay rent, county and non-profit officials said. About 16 percent of Clayton residents are impoverished, according to 2017 U.S. Census Bureau figures. Clayton’s unemployment rate, while it has dropped by more than half over the past five years, is still the highest in metro Atlanta at 4.3 percent.
“We’re excited about Starbucks having a store here,” said Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner, “but even more, we’re excited by the training component that will be on the backside of the store. It will give our young people the managerial training that they can take with them, whether its used at Starbucks or somewhere else.”
The store will be the only Starbucks in Clayton, have a staff of about 30 and will collaborate with organizations such as the United Way of Greater Atlanta and Clayton’s Hearts to Nourish Hope.
“There’s a lack of resources in the Jonesboro/Clayton County area,” Michele Jacobs, director of youth development for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, said of jobs, affordable housing and life skills instruction. “This store will be an opportunity to provide those support services that families and children need.”
Monique Clark, who will be a barista at the store, said Starbucks has given her a vehicle to perform good for others in need. Clark, one of 14 children, came to Clayton County from New York with her mother and siblings a decade ago and knows the importance of community outreach. Hearts to Nourish Hope and Toys for Tots helped bridge the gap of what her mother could and could not provide.
Previous jobs didn’t have the giving and education component that she is getting from Starbucks. By working at the “community” store, the 23-year-old said she can pass on to someone else the help that was provided to her when she was in need.
“The community helped raise us so I want to give back to the community,” she said.
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