JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) hosted its annual Hobnob at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson on Thursday. Organizers said they were excited to host the political networking event in-person after moving the event to a virtual setting in 2020.

Mississippi leaders, including Governor Tate Reeves, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn spoke at the event.

During his speech, the governor pushed to get more people in Mississippi trained for specialized jobs. He said with the recent supply-chain and worker shortages, the initiative is more important than ever.

High schools and colleges statewide already have programs set up that are targeted at training young Mississippians to be ready for the workforce after graduation. Reeves said his administration is developing a new kind of training program.

“We are in the early stages of developing a program that will partner with our universities and community colleges to target those that have moved out of state and recruit them and encourage them to move back. I believe firmly that we can see significant economic growth in our state without population growth,” said Reeves.

Another major topic at this year’s Hobnob was President Biden’s vaccine mandate.

“These mandates are forcing employers to not be able to run his or business like they think they ought to be able to run them. Some employers are telling me that they have employees that have informed them that if the mandates persist, they’re going to walk out. This further hampers our businesses and our employees and our employers as they seek to provide that same level of service that makes them profitable,” said Gunn.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson voiced his concerns about policing medical marijuana, it it becomes legal. He believes enforcement will be an issue.

“When I talked to folks around the county, two major problems; illegal diversion of this medical marijuana substance and the rise of an illegal black market. What we have here is about 200 pounds of medical marijuana from the great state of California. This is not coming to Mississippi. It’s already here, and our law enforcement is concerned about it,” Gipson stated.

Gipson also discussed the new water well that’s being built at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. He said it will be up and running by the end of 2021.