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Robinson, Speed and the Howards named to 1998 Hall of Fame

Best in Mississippi business honored in Jackson

A banker, a real estate magnate and a husband-wife team will be ushered into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame on May 7 in a ceremony to honor their contributions to the state.

The four honorees are E.B. (Bud) Robinson, chairman of the board and CEO of Deposit Guaranty Corp. and Deposit Guaranty National Bank; Leland Speed, chairman of EastGroup and Parkway Properties in Jackson; and Billy and Linda Howard, heads of Howard Industries Inc. in Laurel.

This year, over 100 nominations were submitted from around the state. The newest laureates were chosen by a committee composed of the deans of the Schools of Business from all public and private colleges in the state and past board chairs of the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame.

Robinson, Speed, and Billy and Linda Howard join 30 other laureates inducted into the Hall of Fame in the nine years since the program was created by Junior Achievement of Mississippi Inc. and The Clarion-Ledger.

“The whole purpose is to honor outstanding business leaders past and present,” said Tina Crump of Junior Achievement.

Robinson is an inductee this year for his work in making Deposit Guaranty a multi-bank operation in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, in addition to his extensive work with professional and community organizations.

Robinson started out at Deposit Guaranty in 1967 as a municipal bond trader in its investment division. By 1982 he was president and CEO of the parent company, Deposit Guaranty Corp., and two years later, he was chairman and CEO of both Deposit Guaranty National Bank and the corporation.

In addition to serving on several professional boards, Robinson volunteers his time in the community for organizations like the Andrew Jackson Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Mississippi Museum of Art and the Jackson Metro Housing Partnership.

Speed was selected to the 1998 Hall of Fame for his leadership of EastGroup and Parkway and his work to revitalize downtown Jackson, among other activities.

Speed started his career as a securities dealer but switched to real estate in 1978 and later created a real estate investment trust business that would become EastGroup and Parkway. Nine public company mergers have given the two companies a market capitalization of over $1 billion.

Speed has served as director of ChemFirst, KLLM Transport Services, and Mississippi Valley Gas Co, as well as many other companies. His development work in downtown Jackson resulted in the creation of the Downtown Development District and Capitol Center Inc.

Billy and Linda Howard enter Mississippi’s Hall of Fame for their teamwork in making Howard Industries a top producer of electrical transformers. Billy Howard is chairman and CEO; wife Linda is president and COO.

Billy Howard started the company in 1968 and was soon joined by Linda Howard. They now sell transformers in every state and 100 foreign countries for annual sales of over $400 million. They employ over 3,000 people.

The Howards have branched out with a common carrier business, Howard Transportation, an electronic ballast manufacturing division, and into the personal computer manufacturing and sales industry.

Both Howards are active in their state and community in organizations such as the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Laurel Chamber of Commerce, Laurel Little Theater and Laurel Community Concert Association. They are founders of the Laurel’s Adopt-A-School program and have received numerous honors and awards from various groups.

Last year’s Hall of Famers were Henry Holman, Jr. of Jitney Jungle Stores of America in Jackson; Dudley Hughes of Hughes-Rawls Corp. in Jackson; and Aubrey Burns Patterson of BancorpSouth Inc. in Tupelo.

The induction ceremony will take place Thursday, May 7, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jackson. The reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $1,000 for a table of eight or $125 for individuals. For more information, call (601) 948-3997.

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