Verizon Takes the Lead in Business Network To Promote Employment of People with Disabilities

NEW YORK - Verizon Communications is leading the effort to organize a New York State business cooperative committed to encouraging and supporting the hiring of people with disabilities.

The group, which will be known as the New York State Business Leadership Network, will include companies that are dedicated to hiring, promoting, marketing to and learning about people with disabilities.

Note to editors: A special meeting of organizing members for the Business Leadership Network will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Verizon's Customer Presentation Center, directly behind Verizon Headquarters, 1095 Avenue of the Americas (at 42nd St.).

"People with disabilities are a virtually untapped labor resource," said Paul Crotty, Verizon group president for New York and Connecticut. "The mission of our new business network is to educate, provide information and to serve as a resource for members about all aspects of the employing of people with disabilities."

Other lead companies in the New York State effort include Chase Manhattan Bank, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, MetLife, IBM and Exceptional Parent Magazine.

The Business Leadership Network is an outgrowth of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. In cooperation with state and local partners, businesses establish hiring practices that encourage the inclusion of qualified people with disabilities. Similar groups have been organized in 28 states across the country. In addition to New York City, the New York group will have branches on Long Island and in Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse.

"This initiative occurs at a time when employers are recognizing that corporate success depends on the combined skills and talents of a diverse workforce that includes workers who happen to be disabled. In addition, while the flourishing economy is exhausting the nation's labor pool, workers with disabilities provide a fresh labor resource for companies across all industries," said Crotty.

Verizon has been a leader in assisting people with disabilities. The company has partnered with Abilities Inc., part of the National Center for Disability Services in Albertson, N.Y., to launch Train for 2000, an innovative program aimed at improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Training programs are underway in Albany and on Long Island.

In addition, Verizon is a partner with the U.S. Department of Labor in bringing into the telecommunications industry people who have not traditionally been part of the workforce -- people on government benefit programs, out-of-work candidates, disadvantaged youth and adults, and people with disabilities.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 101 million access line equivalents and more than 26 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.