Gathered at Regions’ corporate headquarters, small-business owners received a crash course in how to be more competitive – not only locally, but on a global stage.

Building for the Future: A Supplier Diversity Initiative included Alabama-based minority and women-led businesses and featured a roundtable discussion, a question-and-answer conversation with a prominent Chicago entrepreneur, and networking.

“It was great to hear someone else’s story,” said L’Tryce Slade, a small-business owner. “It was also great to hear Regions’ commitment to small businesses and how small businesses can work with Regions.”

Marcus Lundy, Manager of Supplier Diversity at Regions, organized the event with the goal of showing vendors how they can do more business.

“I want businesses to understand the pathway of doing business here with Regions Bank. I also want business to understand that we can help them,” Lundy said.

Mellody Hobson, President of Chicago-based Ariel Investments, said the event hit the mark.

“The more you compete, the better you become,” Hobson said. “ … For Regions, bringing in all these fresh faces, fresh voices (and) new ideas creates competition and ultimately will make the organization better.”

Learn more about what Hobson had to say in a question-and-answer session with Birmingham Times editor Barnett Wright.