President Donald Trump has selected Christopher Caldwell to be the next Delta Regional Authority co-chairman. Caldwell, who works as U.S. Sen. John Boozman’s special projects director, is a seventh generation Arkansan.
He grew up on a farm in central Arkansas. Caldwell will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The 38-year-old told Talk Business & Politics he can’t wait for the process to begin.
“It’s a huge honor. … I look forward to working with the administration,” Caldwell said. “I look forward to working in the Delta. I’m excited to begin.”
A timetable for his confirmation hearings has not been set. Caldwell will be vetted by several committees including Homeland Security before his confirmation his brought before the entire legislative body for a vote. If confirmed, he will replace former co-chairman Chris Massingill who was fired by Trump in July.
Boozman, a Republican, endorsed his staffer, and said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman U.S. Sen. Thad Cockran, R-Miss. has already indicated he will support the appointment.
“Chris shares the DRA’s commitment and vision for improving economic opportunity in the delta region. He has a passion for helping others, a strong sense of duty to the region and an understanding of what it takes to bring economic growth to our communities. Plus, he is as tenacious as they come. Chris will be a tireless advocate and an asset to the entire delta in this role,” Boozman said.
Caldwell has been around government and politics since he was a child. His father and grandfather were both civically minded, he said. When graduated from college with a bachelor of arts in communications from the University of Arkansas’ J. William Fulbright School, he went to work on former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson’s campaign in 2002, and former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential bid in 2008.
“I’ve been around it (public service) my whole life … it was kind of a natural fit,” he said.
If he’s nominated, Caldwell said one of his priorities will be workforce development in the Delta Region. Trump has talked a lot about vocational apprenticeships, and it’s a way to develop a better rounded workforce, he said. Issues, such as funding, are not on his radar at this point, and his focus is on the confirmation hearings, he said.
The Delta Caucus also praised Caldwell’s nomination.
“President Trump has made two great choices now for the Presidential appointees at the DRA in Chris Caldwell of Sen. Boozman’s staff and Peter Kinder of Missouri. We congratulate Chris Caldwell on this nomination, we know he’ll do a great job and we look forward to working with him,” said Caucus Director Lee Powell. “Sen. Boozman has always been a great champion for the DRA and we are delighted that his Director of Special Projects has been chosen for this post.”
The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. To date, the DRA’s SEDAP investments, together with its state and local partners, have leveraged federal resources into nearly $3.5 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workforce improvement, and infrastructure development projects. DRA investments have helped to create and retain more than 37,000 jobs, train more than 7,300 workers for 21st Century jobs, and deliver water and sewer improvements to more than 66,000 residents.