Governor Bob Riley challenges Jeffco business leaders to step up

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Governor Bob Riley tonight challenged Birmingham's business leaders to step up before it's too late.

Riley spoke to business leaders and elected officials at the launching of the Birmingham Business Alliance, the name of the group created by merging the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and the Metropolitan Development Board.

The Governor said the county is getting close to the point of no return for economic development.

"I'm just not really sure a lot of people in Jefferson County or the surrounding area really understands what may happen in the next few weeks," Riley said. "And it's something I think is going to have longlasting effects."

At one point Riley asked the CEO's and executives inside the crowded room to raise their hands if they had called an elected official in the last 30 days, and only a few hands went up.

"Can't do that," Riley said. "I'm not going to tell you how to do it. I'm just telling you it is time for some leadership in Jefferson County. It's not here, and you can basically talk to a whole array of people, but it's time for the leadership to stand up and say if we have to compromise, we'll compromise. But we can't go down this path of saying there's no solution."

The Jefferson County legislative delegation will meet tomorrow morning to try and find a compromise for the occupational tax that Democrats and Republicans can support.