BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Elected officials from throughout the state are spending the next few days in Biloxi learning about various aspects of how to run a city or county.
With so many newly elected officials, Mississippi Municipal League Executive Director Shari Veazey said this year's training is even more vital.
"We have about a 29 percent turnover from the recent municipal elections, so we are teaching a lot of classes that are very relevant," Veazey said. "Those that have just been elected will learn how the municipal government operates: the legal issues, economic development, zoning, land use and financial planning."
While those are all important issues, Ellisville Mayor Tim Waldrup said the most invaluable lesson is networking.
"They were elected because they had a vision. But if they are going to make that vision happen, they have to have networking skills and sharpen your networking skills and learn how to work with people," Waldrup said.
Waldrup said the training has paid dividends for his city and he's not alone.
"We've essentially gotten around $15 million in the last 12 years in grants and a lot of that has to do with knowing the people who have the grants, knowing how to get those grants and how to meet them and talk with them," Waldrup said.
Durant Alderman Henry Robinson said, "We have done the Mississippi Main Street, we have a lot of information on that. We also got information on the Mississippi Brownfields, how to get rid of waste. We also got a lot of grant opportunities."
Without that knowledge, Waldrup is confident he would not have been elected for his fourth term.
"I would have been a one term mayor and that would have been all of me because I wouldn't have known what to do," Waldrup said. "In four years, I would have been in the same place I started."
Two hundred out of the 289 cities in Mississippi are represented at the 2013 conference at the Coast Coliseum Convention Center.