Unity and Race Relations Top Issues at Summit

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West Alabama's congressman Arthur Davis and East Mississippi’s congressman Chip Pickering became the impromptu headliners at today's leadership summit, due to the unexpected absence of the state's governors.

Davis, of Alabama's 7th District, said one of the areas main issues is race relations, stating it should remain a top priority.

"As we think about these challenges, and I have heard all of them last session like health care, education, the need to build sustainable communities we need to remember that any of the challenges are nothing like we faced forty years ago," Davis told the crowd.

Entitled "Closing the Gaps" the conference allowed the two congressmen to bring a federal perspective to what gaps are the widest. Chip Pickering said the challenges of this region are as simple as working together.

"The only way we can change the image, the identification of this region is to combine our resources, combine our population, we have to combine more and cooperate," said Pickering.

The event also re-visited four priorities set last years. The first one of those is creating a high quality of life, then came better education and then hopefully a skilled workforce leading to a stronger economy thus creating a cycle of prosperity.

The graphs and numbers show that "cycle" is headed in the right direction, but those same graphs and numbers reminded people this region has a long way to go.