Starbucks Is Opening Cafés In Ferguson & Other Low-Income Areas

Photo courtesy of Starbucks
A new study is showing what anyone who has lived in a gentrifying neighborhood already knows: If there’s money, there’s a Starbucks.

Eater recently used census data to compare neighborhood income averages and demographics to a map of Starbucks locations — and found pretty much exactly what you’d expect: If there’s a Starbucks in the neighborhood, the people who live there are more likely to be white and middle class.

The company has been responding to its image of upper-middle-class privilege with a concerted push to open locations in more low-income neighborhoods, with a goal of supporting economic and social change. Specifically on the agenda are towns and neighborhoods that may be familiar — places like Ferguson, MO. Also on the short list is Milwaukee, where a police officer shot an unarmed Black man outside a Starbucks in 2014.

The program, which will open 15 new locations in five cities, was announced in July of this year. In a statement, Starbucks addressed the ways it was evaluating location placement. “To determine which communities are a good fit for this store concept," the statement read, "Starbucks looks at all the available data on the socio-economic health of America’s cities to understand which communities have the biggest opportunity gaps."

Starbucks has long tried to portray itself as a conscientious business, with progressive official stances on everything from LGBTQ inclusiveness to a living wage to racial tension. (Some of these have been better received than others.) The company is also spearheading a push by a coalition of companies to hire 100,000 at-risk youth by 2018 as a way to promote economic growth and community security.

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