ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney Co.’s Disney World, threatened with suits from minority business owners in the Orlando area, announced Thursday a program to increase minority contracts at the popular theme park resort.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference had planned to stage a protest at Disney World on Saturday on the theme, “Mickey is a rat,” but withdrew its plans after the agreement was reached.
SCLC spokesman Rev. Roderick Zak said the program is intended to spur 15% minority participation by the year 2000 in an expected business and building boom that is centered around Disney World.
Judson Green, president of Walt Disney Attractions, said the entertainment giant would commit $ 1 million to help finance the start-up costs of new minority businesses and would give cash advances of up to 10% to minority business contractors for up-front costs of materials and supplies.
$ 1 mil in aid
Orange County, Fla. chairwoman Linda Chapin said that the county would provide another $ 1 million to aid the start-up of minority businesses, including loan programs for Hispanic businesses.
A group called the Minority Coalition for Progress Now had filed suits recently against Orange County and against Disney Attractions, charging that minorities had been excluded from business contracts awarded in the area.
The SCLC had initially supported the lawsuits.
Jane Adams, director of publicity at Disney World, said Disney plans to open one or two new hotels yearly through 1998, increasing the 12,000 hotel rooms available now to 21,000 rooms.
“We have a minority business program now,” she said.
“We have hired increasing numbers every year for the past five years, and we anticipate increasing numbers significantly as a result of the program we talked about today.”