Diversity summit's speaker: "Stay the course"

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Chamber of Commerce held it's fourth annual Diversity Summit Thursday, bringing together hundreds River Regions business leaders and executives.

Keynote speaker Phillip Holloman emphasized embracing diversity and engaging a multicultural workforce to 800 River Region business leaders. But the truth is, most companies aren't even hiring. Many owners are focused on just keeping their businesses afloat and holding on to what's left of a workforce. Just ask Whitfield Foods shareholder Virginia Whitfield.

"Business people are afraid to hire right now and it's the uncertainty. If we had something certain we would know what to do," Whitfield said.

With the president's jobs proposals and other plans floating around, business owners are coming up with their own theories for a solution.

"I think we've got to reduce the taxation, reduce some of the regulation."

As the CEO of the Cintas company, Holloman oversees 30,000 workers. He says Cintas has momentum and other business should too, despite cutbacks.

"We had to reduce our expenses but we decided that we're not going to have a bunker mentality and we're going to continue to grow our top line," Holloman said.

And the Chamber of Commerce says the River Region should continue to see job growth and not wait on Washington.

"But how our local team of elected officials and business leadership are going to get it done," Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Anna Buckalew said.

A few of those businesses in attendance Thursday include Baptist Health, Hyundai and Alabama Power. Troy University is the presenting sponsor.

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