Everywhere we turn, the media bombards us with a dominant theme: the economy. Rightly so! Today, nearly 12 million of our friends and neighbors are unemployed. To make a bad situation worse, politicians and pundits spend more energy pointing fingers than finding solutions. I don't know Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO) personally, but he and I have at least one thing in common--we've had enough.
All of us need to remember a founding principle of our country: United we stand, divided we fall. I choose to stand and be united. I know that together the American people can revive our economy and create jobs. My network of small businesses helps do so every day, in an economic environment that's been ravaged for decades.
Americans need jobs, and one of the most effective ways to create jobs is by supporting small and community owned businesses, like grocery stores, plumbers, medical clinics, affordable housing developers, hairdressers, and carpenters. These enterprises create local jobs--and many of them could offer even more jobs if they had access to the affordable financing that's needed to grow and expand their businesses and build or renovate their spaces.
That's where Create Jobs for USA comes in. Founded by Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the initiative creates and retains jobs through investment opportunities, such as the renovation of a run down building in Corbin, KY. With support from Create Jobs for USA, my company, Fahe, a Kentucky based CDFI, made a construction loan to turn an abandoned high school building in Corbin into desperately needed affordable housing apartments. The project not only transformed an eyesore into a cultural landmark; it also created 33 construction jobs, a third of all of the construction jobs available in Corbin in 2012. Fewer than 10,000 people live in Corbin--so, as in most small towns, every job counts. Check out the brief video below to learn more about this awesome endeavor.
This renovation is just one of hundreds of ventures that CDFIs like mine finance through Create Jobs for USA.
Howard Schultz started the initiative when he became frustrated by rising unemployment numbers, disgusted with Washington, and could no longer stand on the sidelines waiting for someone else to do something. Rather than just donate to a job creating charity, in 2011 he started Create Jobs for USA to involve the American people and corporations in being part of the solution to unemployment. Within its first year, Create Jobs for USA raised $15 million in donations and created 5,000 jobs.
Every donation made to Create Jobs for USA --many of them as little as $5--brings new capital to CDFIs such as Fahe. We then lend that capital to economic engines like the East Corbin School renovation. Our loans are used to help community businesses take-off and thrive. When these businesses repay the loans, we then lend to other businesses. The cycle is transformational.
So, I ask you, when was the last time you could be a solution to a real problem for a sacrifice as small as $5?
We have a choice: do nothing or take action. Instead of waiting for someone else to tell us what to do, let's attack our problems together. I give to Create Jobs for USA because my donation of $5 joins with other folks' contributions and becomes a powerful investment. And CDFIs turn that $5 into $35 dollars in financing. This means your donation is really worth $7 times the amount that comes out of your own wallet.
By donating to Create Jobs through the JobRaising Challenge, you'll join the more than 800,000 people and many corporations taking action and standing united. I have made the choice to give to Create Jobs for USA because I want to be part of a solution to a real problem. Because we can do better. Because the status quo is unacceptable. I give to Create Jobs for USA because I choose to stand for and with the American people.
Jim King is the President of Fahe, a CDFI serving Appalachia with financial services, advocacy, and strategic leadership though a network of 53 community agencies working to eliminate poverty. From home loans for energy efficiency to health care centers to improving water systems, Fahe and its allies are making Appalachia a better place to live and work. Last year, Fahe invested more than $50 million to help create 2,300 jobs and improve the lives of 6,400 families across its network.