I was going to write about the NYC Marathon today because it is one of the most inspiring things to witness first hand. I spent about 30 minutes there this afternoon, cheering the runners on (including Heather Armstrong of Dooce who blew by right in front of us at around 2:40pm). Someone said, and it’s true, that if you are losing faith in humanity, go watch a marathon.
But a marathon, wonderful as it is, can’t solve all our problems (wouldn’t it be great if it could?). Which is why the marathon isn’t the main subject of this post, and Create Jobs for USA is. As bleak as the economic outlook here and the world over seems, there are promising, positive things happening, and this is one of them. Michael Ellsberg wrote that dropouts might just save America because many of those people become business owners and entrepreneurs; and most of the new jobs created in this country come from the small business sector. Ellsberg and we life learners are not the only ones who believe that supporting entrepreneurs and small business is the way to go. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, has teamed up with the Opportunity Finance Network to launch Create Jobs for USA. The goal? Raise money to support small business loans and financing to companies that otherwise might not qualify, with the intent of creating jobs across the country, especially in lower income areas. If you live near a Starbucks (and who doesn’t) you can go in and make a donation to the fund. For $5 or more you’ll receive a red/white/blue wrist band with a silver charm that reads “indivisible” and 100% of your donation will go directly to the fund. Not bad. You can also donate directly at the createjobsforusa.org website. Every $5 donation will result in $35 in financing to support community businesses, because the local lenders will issue $30 in financing, on average, for each $5 donation, and every $3,000 in donations creates or saves a job. The Starbucks Foundation has pledged $5 million dollars and hopefully that number will increase dramatically with the support of individuals across the country. The people at BlogHer are doing their part as well by donating $5 for each of the first 2000 blog posts on their network that mentions the Create Jobs for USA initiative. (Here’s hoping mine is among them.)
Skeptical? Wondering if this will really result in jobs created? I would answer that in two ways: first, you can read all about it on the Create Jobs website and decide for yourself whether what they are doing will be effective. I think it will. And second, you need to ask yourself if there are alternatives out there that offer something better. Politicians can talk all they want about job initiatives. Politicians can talk. The people at Occupy Wall Street can protest the gross inequalities in our system. People can protest.
Or we can encourage young people to be entrepreneurs, to open businesses, to employ. Maybe they’ll need a loan at decent interest to do it. Where are they going to get it, especially if they don’t have a long credit history or a lot of cash in the bank? If we join BlogHer and Howard Schultz and Starbucks in supporting and promoting Create Jobs for USA, maybe we can show the country how to work together to get this done. Maybe one of those self-taught entrepreneurs, (or even one with a college degree – we’ll let them in too) will receive one of these loans and go on to be the next Howard Schultz. Do you think that person will forget where they started?
Nothing changes unless we are willing to risk a little, trust a little and work together. Hey, even if Schultz was doing this all on his own I’d be inclined to support it – the man has an impressive track record, after all. But add BlogHer and the Opportunity Finance Network and I think you’ve got a winning formula.
The time for long speeches is over. Now it’s time to act.