Ford Motor Co. will expand the number of dealerships owned by Hispanic Americans by 50 over the next five years as part of a partnership between the automaker, Latino Initiatives for the Next Century (LINC) and Millennium LMI.

"The fact is, independent Hispanic dealers, adequately capitalized and effectively managed, are essential to the successful marketing and sales of Ford products," says George Frame, Ford's director of dealer development. "This partnership creates a program providing qualified Hispanics with resources that help them become economically self-sufficient through ownership of a Ford Motor Co. dealership."

So far, the initiative has received endorsements from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Rainbow/Push Coalition.

Ford says it expects 50% of the dealerships involved to be new and 50% to be purchases of existing franchises.