Thousands of elected officials, municipal and state agencies employees are in Biloxi for the 86th Annual Mississippi Municipal League Conference.
"Coming down, you get to meet a lot of other elected officials from across the state," Petal Mayor Hal Marx said. "Each one has similar problems that we may have, some have different solutions than we have, so it's good to network with them."
Marx said he hasn't attended the conference every year and makes the decision based on the city's finances. He said wanted to attend this year after just being elected for his third term in May.
"There's a lot of interesting lectures and seminars offered from experts in their field, so I think you get a lot of information you can take back and help solve the problems you are having in your community," Marx said.
According to the MML, over 3,000 municipal elected officials, municipal employees, state agency representatives, legislators and exhibitors are expected this week during the three-day conference at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center.
"You get different ideas and different law changes and things that are going on," said Hattiesburg City Clerk Kermas Eaton. "There are a lot of educational courses here where you can see what other cities are doing and look at what we are doing."
Session topics include state law updates, grant writing, community health initiatives, municipal liability issues, community and economic development, retail development, disaster recovery and water and sewer issue. Some courses are Municipal Law and Finance, Working Together for a Healthy City, Recipe for Success in Community Growth and Social Media for Elected Officials.
"A lot of small towns have the same problems," Marx said. "Lack of resources, a lot of us need infrastructure, so I like to talk to other mayors and aldermen to find out how they are dealing with those and of course you take them back. Some things you'll be able to use, some things you won't be able to apply to your city."
The theme this year is "Signs of a Successful City," highlighting five characteristics to improve the quality of life for citizens: Innovative, Engaging, Futuristic, Effective, and Strong.
I asked Pine Belt leaders which they felt were most important to their communities.
"Well I think innovative because you have to come up with new solutions. Sometimes as our society changes and technology changes, you have to dins new ways to deal with the issues," Marx said.
New Collins Mayor Hope Magee Jones agreed. "Being innovative. Jumping right in there and not only starting the projects and leaving them on the shelf, but getting to implement everything so we can build Collins stronger and better," Jones said.
New Ellisville Mayor Lynn Buckhaults, he said he is taking every course he can to be more prepared for the role. His characteristic for the city - futuristic.
"Looking forward towards the future for what we may do to provide a better living for people who live there," said Buckhaults. "The economic growth and development is what we've got to have to continue."
The MML represents 295 city, town and village governments in Mississippi. The mission of the MML is helping cities and towns excel through training, lobbying at the state and federal level.