Starbucks And Homeport Join Forces With Job Fair

Specialty Coffee Company Looks To Affordable Home Leader For Employees

Starbucks is teaming up with Central Ohio affordable home leader Homeport in an attempt to diversify its employment base in the region.

Hiring at Starbucks often begins online. But on May 21, several local representatives of Starbucks will hold a job fair at a Homeport apartment community in Reynoldsburg in search of baristas and shift supervisors needed at 45 of its Central Ohio stores.

 “We often try different ways to hire for our stores but nothing quite as out of the box as this,” said Andrew Bertolino, manager of the Starbucks store in Grandview and an organizer of the initiative.  Starbucks wants to diversify its employment base in the area and provide more opportunities to individuals struggling to break into the job market.

 Over 5,500 people live in Homeport homes, half 18 and under. Sixty-three percent identify as African-American. A growing number of “new American” populations, including Somali families, are Homeport residents. The average Homeport household income is $17,148.

 The early evening job fair at Pheasant Run Apartments will be open to residents ages 16 and up from all 30 Homeport rental communities.

Amy Klaben, President/CEO of Homeport, welcomed the job fair outreach by Starbucks.

“Homeport prides itself on its holistic support of residents, be it their health, education or personal financial goals,” Klaben said. “This takes our commitment to our residents to another level, providing meaningful employment opportunities close to home. It is the first time a major employer has provided this kind of opportunity at Homeport.”

 The fact that Homeport’s communities are spread throughout the region made it a good fit for the job outreach, Bertolino said.

Morgen Wade, Homeport’s volunteer manager, said the job fair represents the latest chapter in the Starbucks-Homeport partnership that began three years ago as a volunteer initiative.

 “They have provided reading books and school supplies, both from their employee partners and customers, for our children’s school breaks and back to school drives. They have served fresh produce at free markets made available to our residents,” Wade said.

 Starbucks is committed to long-term development of the new hires, with employment possible at all levels, from first job to management.

 “There is no hard and fast number we are hoping to hire at the job fair, but we have quite a few openings,” Bertolino said. “It is definitely a different approach. Instead of being passive, we are going out into the community to get people into our workforce.”

 Individuals who work a minimum of 20 hours a week at Starbucks company-owned locations are eligible to enroll in an online, 4-year degree program from Arizona State University, he said. Starbucks reimburses partners (employees) 100 percent of the tuition after all other qualifying scholarships or financial aid.

 Homeport hopes the Starbucks relationship will serve as a model for others interested in connecting on a charitable, social and business level. (Editor's Note: 17 individuals received job offers from the Job Fair. Read Columbus Dispatch article.)