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Speed returns to helm of MDA

JACKSON — Leland Speed, Gov. Haley Barbour’s first economic development agency director, will return to run the Mississippi Development Authority.

Barbour announced that Speed had agreed to return to MDA March 21 as its executive director for the remainder of Barbour’s term, which ends in January.

Speed replaces Gray Swoope, who is moving to a Florida.

Swoope became director of MDA in Jan. 2007, after Speed left the agency. Swoope had been second in command at the agency since 2004, when Barbour became governor.

“The return of Leland Speed to lead MDA will ensure a seamless transition and strong leadership for an agency with such an important task in these difficult economic times: Creating Mississippi jobs,” Barbour said. “Leland is an exceptional business leader who knows the needs of the private sector. I appreciate his dedication to public service.”

Speed is chairman of EastGroup Properties and Parkway Properties, real estate investment trusts (REITs). The National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts presented him with the 2008 Industry Leadership Award.

Speed also served as airman 3/C and second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served in intelligence with the Strategic Air Command.

Active in civic affairs, he serves as chairman of the Jackson State University Development Foundation, the Mississippi College Capital Campaign and the RAND Corporation Gulf States Policy Initiative. He also served as past chairman of the Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Capital Area, Goodwill Industries and Downtown Jackson Partners. He also serves on the Mississippi Main Street board.

A native of Jackson, Speed received his bachelor’s degree in industrial management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.

Speed is married to the former Bessie Sarphie. They have three sons and nine grandchildren.

Source: The Associated Press

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