Starbucks to open shop with a training focus in East Baltimore

Starbucks will open a new coffee shop with a training focus near Johns Hopkins Hospital early next year, part of a larger move by the coffee giant to offer jobs and training to youths in poor communities around the United States.

The Starbucks with an in-store classroom will open in the long-planned East Baltimore Development Inc. project to transform 88 acres north of the hospital into homes, offices and shops. The coffee shop will be located on Ashland Avenue in the Science + Technology Park at Johns Hopkins in an office/lab building that was finished in July and is more than 70 percent leased.


A Starbucks spokeswoman said the East Baltimore store will likely open in January or February.

"We picked this particular location because of the opportunity it provides to contribute to the revitalization and development of the Dunbar-Broadway neighborhood in this part of East Baltimore while providing an opportunity to expand our business and serve customers at the nearby Johns Hopkins Hospital," said Alisha Damodaran.


The Baltimore shop is one of five Starbucks announced Wednesday as part of the initiative. It also plans to open similar stores next year in Birmingham, Ala.; Long Beach, Calif.; the Miami metropolitan area; and White Center in the greater Seattle area.

The coffee giant opened three locations under the program this year, in Phoenix, the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., and in Ferguson, Mo., near the site of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown that sparked protest and rioting. Starbucks plans to open the fourth store Wednesday on Chicago's South Side.

The goal is to open such stores in at least 15 low-to-medium income communities by 2018, creating jobs, working with local, minority-owned contractors and suppliers, and offering job skills training for 16- to 24-year-olds who are out of work and out of school.

"Our goal with this initiative is to show that when the private and public sectors come together to drive meaningful investment, we can create new jobs and economic opportunities that have the potential to reverberate for generations to come," said Rodney Hines, director for community investments for Starbucks U.S. Retail Operations, in an announcement.

Starbucks' new concept fits well into one of EBDI's goals of providing jobs for East Baltimore residents, whether in construction or in offices and shops, said Scott Levitan, director of development for Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership, the master developer of the East Baltimore Development Inc.

"The [Starbucks] store is a real leap forward to be able to create a pipeline for Starbucks to train local residents and then employ those trained residents all around the region in other Starbucks stores," Levitan said. "It has great potential to fit into our efforts to create employment opportunities for local residents, within the development area and outside of the development area."

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The new store concept grew out of the Starbucks-led "100,000 Opportunities Initiatives," an employer-led coalition to connect unemployed youth with jobs. In October 2014, Baltimore became one of five U.S. cities that teamed with Starbucks to host town hall-style gatherings at neighborhood coffee shops to hash out solutions to community problems. Six sessions in the city focused on helping young people find jobs.

"We've heard young people share how they didn't even know about a particular career path," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in Starbucks' announcement of the new East Baltimore shop. "So many young people, particularly those in low-income, diverse communities, are limited by what they see in their home and their neighborhoods."


She said the Starbucks training program can "introduce young people to the workplace and get them ready for that first job. I applaud Starbucks for bringing this unique store concept to our city."

Starbucks said it looks for communities with a need for investment and where local movements are underway to make improvements. In Baltimore, the company still is working on selecting a nonprofit that would run six-to-eight-week job skills training programs in the store.

Devon Wilford-Said, a community activist in East Baltimore and a member of the residents council of Pleasantview Gardens near Old Town Mall, said the new store could benefit East Baltimore residents if Starbucks follows through with hiring from local communities.

"That would be a good program for community residents to get skills," she said. "If they hear there are jobs, they will flock to it."