$1 billion pledged to vendors.

Author:Ramsey, Vikki L.
Position:Coca-Cola promises to buy goods and services from minority and women-owned businesses

Reacting to the growing number of minorities and women in the marketplace, The Coca-Cola Co. has vowed to spend $1 billion on goods and services from minority and women-owned businesses by 1996. Company officials say the move makes good business sense, and increases opportunities for minority and women entrepreneurs to participate in the nation's economic mainstream.

Ingrid Saunders Jones, Coca-Cola vice president, corporate external affairs, says the four-year initiative is not a set-aside. The $1 billion is a projection of money that will be spent in the normal course of business operations. Last year, the soft drink giant, spent in excess of $132 million with minority and women suppliers. The company spent nearly $700 million during the 1980s.

"What's important is that Coca-Cola took a look at the business they were doing and decided it wasn't enough," says Harriet Michel, president of the New York-based National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). "If every corporation would just do that, the impact would really be significant."

Despite the excitement in some business circles, Anthony Robinson, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., says such plans rarely make significant long-range impacts. "I hear this stuff quite often from corporate America, but seldom are you able to get the supportive data to substantiate their claims," he warns. Robinson says that if a...

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