Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks announced on Thursday that it is investing $120 million into an expansion of its Augusta Soluble Plant. The expansion will create up to 100 permanent new jobs after construction is completed.
The current facility is approximately 180,000-square-feet and the expansion will add an additional 140,000. Prompted by growth and consumer demand, the expansion is slated to be completed by late 2019. The Augusta plant opened in 2012 and produces Starbucks VIA Instant, the base for Frappucino beverages and also many of Starbucks bottled and canned drinks. The expansion will add six new whole bean roasters. This will allow the plant to offer packaged coffee to Starbucks stores and retail locations in the Eastern United States.
The plant currently employs 185 workers, one in six of which are armed forces veterans or military spouses. The plant regularly hosts job fairs at Fort Gordon, home to 12,000 soldiers. Tim Filipowski says the positions created from the expansion will cover a range of duties, much of which are technical.
“Because of the technical nature of our business here, we have recruited heavily for automation specialists, operators, mechanics and technicians,” said Filipowski. “Generally, the folks coming out of the service have some or all of those experiences.”
The partnership with Fort Gordon is a part of Starbucks’ goal to hire 10,000 service members, veterans or military spouses by 2018. They have actually already met that goal and have announced a new target of 25,000 by 2025. Starbucks offers regular tours of the plant for service members, maintains an Adopt-a-Unit program and supports the annual Fisher House Golf Tournament, which benefits families of patients at military and Veterans Administration medical centers.
Executive Director of the Augusta Development Authority of Richmond County, Walter Sprouse, spoke of the mutual benefits of the Starbucks/Fort Gordon partnership. “We have a lot of people who get out of the service after, say, three years or six years or 20 years, and these are smart people,” Sprouse said. “They’re excellent workers. About 150 a month come out of the military. Half of them go home, but the other half want to stay here. That’s 75 to 100 well-trained people per month entering the workforce. Starbucks did their research. They’ve found so many qualified workers.”
Georgia Governor Deal was expectedly pleased with the announcement. “As Georgia grows its reputation as the gateway to the Southeastern market, companies like Starbucks continue to strategically locate and expand operations here.” said Deal. “This decision to expand in Augusta reflects Georgia’s ability to retain dynamic companies and support industry leaders in long-term growth. With this facility expansion, Starbucks will continue to enjoy the benefits of manufacturing in the top state for business, while creating new jobs in the Augusta area, including additional opportunities for veterans. We value our continued relationship with Starbucks and look forward to the company’s continued success in Georgia.”
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