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New Ukrop's Owner Can Pick Up Slack in Minority Biz Support

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By any business score card, when a company serves and profits directly from consumers in the marketplace, it is imperative to weigh how well all sectors of the community benefit from its presence (“Score of the Decade,” Cover Story, Dec. 30). If one were to balance the economic, social and cultural contributions of Ukrop's Super Markets to the metropolitan Richmond community, they missed an incredible opportunity to more positively impact the advancement of minority business enterprises.

Corporate social responsibility embraces and ensures community growth and development across social and economic lines. Ukrop's employs a number of highly regarded and accomplished minority professionals in leadership and management roles. The company was instrumental in creating the Community Pride Grocery Stores with minority entrepreneur Johnny Johnson. Driving through the Richmond metropolitan area, one sees evidence of Ukrop's corporate and personal support for work force housing, centrally located sports facilities, popular athletic events, cultural and entertainment venues and higher education.

Based upon personal experience and direct dealings, however, Ukrop's never fully supported or embraced supplier diversity and inclusion. In contrast, Giant-Carlisle, which is purchasing Ukrop's, is a leader in outreach, development and utilization of diverse supplier partners — one of the best in its industry.

When we opened our offices in Washington and joined the D.C./Maryland Minority Supplier Development Council, I soon learned of James Sturgis, director of supplier diversity for Giant Food. The following year, Sturgis and Giant won the council's Presidential Leadership Award based on the stores' success in utilizing minority suppliers.

Giant-Carlisle's industry position and financial standing in our competitive, global economy proves that companies do not have to compromise quality, service or competitive pricing to incorporate diverse vendors, suppliers and contractors in their supply strategies. Giant-Carlisle has done so effectively and profitably.

Like other Ukrop's shoppers, I hope that the high standards of product quality and customer service we have depended on will remain after the Giant-Carlisle acquisition. I hope that my purchasing dollars will continue to support local growers and providers of produce, seafood and meats. And I am now more hopeful for new business opportunities and advances for minorities in our community. Giant-Carlisle has proven its commitment to advancing minority economic development, as evidenced by the numerous minority partners found on its Web site. As a minority business owner, I am optimistic that the best is yet to come. Welcome to Richmond, Giant-Carlisle!

Denise I. Fields
E2C Group LLC
Richmond

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