Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and the Northern Ohio Minority Business Council are hosting a networking seminar June 7 that will link together 150 Cleveland area majority and minority suppliers.

The daylong seminar -- held at Windows on the River at Powerhouse Nautica -- is a way to generate business for minority suppliers.

"Ford held similar seminars in Chicago in 1999 and St. Louis in April this year that were very successful," said Rich Honecker, Ford's executive director of Global Facilities, Materials and Services Purchasing. "The feedback we received from the Chicago participants indicated that more than $20 million of new business was generated as a result of the event. We expect to see similar results from St. Louis when we conduct the survey later this month."

In total, each minority-owned company will have the opportunity to present itself to approximately 60 potential customers during the seminar. The event's goal is to draw 600 formal sales calls in the 30 days following the seminar.

Ray Jensen, director of Ford's Minority Supplier Development Office, said after Cleveland, networking seminars are planned for Detroit late this summer and in Atlanta in the fall.

"Ford purchases more than $3 billion a year of goods and services from minority-owned businesses making our program the largest in the country," Jensen said. "The networking seminars help elevate Ford's program beyond simply being a good customer. We also want to be good corporate citizens, and these seminars help us meet this objective."

Ford suppliers from the Cleveland area that will participate in the seminar include the Eaton Corp., LTV Steel, Parker Hannifin and Unity Rubber Co. Ltd.

Ford buys more than $80 billion of car and truck components, office supplies and factory equipment from nearly 12,000 suppliers. The automaker's nationally recognized minority supplier development program led the nation in buying directly from minority suppliers in 1999. The program also offers unique programs designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its minority suppliers, such as lean manufacturing training, engineering mentoring and problem-solving workshops.

Ford is also encouraging its suppliers to have similar minority supplier development programs. Last year, Ford's suppliers bought $1 billion in goods and services from minority businesses.