Virginia Natural Gas partners with diverse businesses, spends $43M for goods and services in 2021

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Supplier Diversity Development program helps facilitate business success through mentoring, individualized management consultations and education opportunities.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., March 29, 2022 — As one of Southeast Virginia’s largest economic engines, the commitment of Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) to support the needs of the local, small and diverse business community across Hampton Roads is as strong as ever and continues to grow even during one of the most challenging economic recoveries for diverse and minority-owned businesses.

Through working with diverse business partners, Virginia Natural Gas spent more than $43 million with minority, women, and veteran-owned business in 2021. VNG has been on a path to increase annual spending with diverse companies for several years and surpassed its 2021 goal, finishing the year at nearly 32% diverse spend. Overall, VNG has invested $189.3 million with diverse businesses since 2015.

“Virginia Natural Gas and our partners recognize the mutual economic and social benefits that diverse suppliers and the communities receive by doing business with us,” said Michelle Muhammad, Director of supplier diversity at VNG’s parent company, Southern Company Gas. “We all gain new insights from working with businesses that bring diversity and reflect the community served by the company.”

To help grow the company’s supplier diversity pipeline, the company has established an 18-month robust Supplier Diversity Development Program to build capabilities and capacity of businesses, enhance their competitiveness, and support growth in the community. The program makes sure businesses have the tools and resources necessary to become a supplier to the company and facilitate business success.

“These programs help suppliers from underrepresented groups to thrive by providing not only business opportunities, but also opportunities for long-term relationships, mentorship, and development,” added Muhammad. “By participating in this program, businesses will benefit from the knowledge, expertise and resources they will be given.”

Like the mother-and-daughter-in-law team of Carolyn and Mary Kiely who established Traffic Plan, a full-service provider of traffic control services and equipment to utility companies, municipalities and private contractors throughout the Mid-Atlantic. They founded the company in 2012 when they saw the need for traffic safety control during road construction projects when the company who previously provided those services left the area.

The woman-owned business began working with Southern Company Gas and Virginia Natural Gas in 2016 after being invited to attend the Supplier Diversity Development Program, which, according to Mary Kiely, proved to be a great learning experience and helped them expand their diversity initiatives.

“Our six-year relationship with Southern Company Gas and Virginia Natural Gas has proven to be beneficial in many ways,” said Mary Kiely. “Traffic Plan has grown and expanded into new territories and been able to open new doors for our employees. We look forward to a continued relationship with one of our valued partners in progress, and we welcome the opportunity to grow into new markets.”

Through the partnership with both Southern Company Gas and Virginia Natural Gas, the company has grown from three vans and six employees to more than 500 employees throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“Our partnership has allowed us to expand our service area and grow our teams,” said Kiely. “We appreciate everything we have learned from our mentorship with Southern Company Gas and Virginia Natural Gas and look forward to future growth of our continued partnership.”

VNG’s training, education and mentorship, like the opportunities provided to Traffic Plan, is helping small and disadvantaged businesses grow and compete. With a strong a commitment in reinvesting in the communities it serves, the company is fostering entrepreneurship in highly impacted minority groups.

“Our policy is to help diverse suppliers develop their businesses to maximize their opportunities with us,” added Muhammad. “We have 48 diverse business partners in Virginia, and by having a strong supplier diversity program we have true partnerships working together for successful outcomes.”

To learn more about the Supplier Diversity program, visit https://www.virginianaturalgas.com/company/about-us/supplier-diversity.html.

About Virginia Natural Gas Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to more than 300,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in southeast Virginia. Consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the company also has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for its safety, innovation, environmental stewardship, community outreach and educational programs, and has been named Local Distribution Company of the Year five times since 2015. The company has been ranked by its business customers as one of the most Trusted Business Partners in the utility industry according to Cogent Reports, and as a Top Workplace in Hampton Roads by Inside Business. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on FacebookTwitter, InstagramLinkedIn, and Nextdoor.

About Southern Company Gas Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 666,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.

SOURCE Virginia Natural Gas