Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Les Echols.

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce hosted a Building Bridges Diversity and Leadership Summit at the Florence Center.

The summit’s mission is to equip leaders in the business community to address diversity issues through education and awareness. Nearly 100 people associated with various businesses packed into the Florence Center to learn how to make their business more diverse and equitable.

A number of guests and panelists spoke on diversity, equity and inclusion as it relates to the interconnectedness of business and community.

Les Echols, the director of community and minority enterprise said summits like this will create a place of belonging for people in the workplace and in life.

“It is very important for us to grasp onto those things that bring us closer together and this is a part of that structure,” Echols said.

The summit provided businesses with practical measures to take back to their workplace to make sure they have an environment that is representative of the people that work there and the people they serve in the communities.

Florence Mayor Teresa Myers Ervin was present for the summit, and she said diversity in the workplace can help give different perspectives.

“Diversity should be in any position you’re at,” Ervin said. “Leadership is better when it has a multitude of input from different people.”

Mayor Ervin said the city of Florence is all about making sure people have an equal opportunity and equal access at career advancement.

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Taylor Ford is a digital journalist for News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2023. Taylor is a Florence native and covers the Pee Dee out of News13’s Florence Bureau. Read more of Taylor’s work here.