Biden appoints Copiah man to national post

Published 10:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2022

Corey Wiggins, the executive director of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP, has been appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as the federal co-chair for the Delta Regional Authority.

Wiggins, a Hazlehurst native, will face U.S. Senate confirmation for the post.

The Delta Regional Authority encompasses parts of eight states — including 252 counties and parishes — in the Mississippi River Delta region. The federal-state partnership was created during the Bill Clinton administration to aid economic development efforts in the mostly economically distressed region.

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The authority is governed primarily by the governors in the Delta Regional Authority, including Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, and a federal co-chair appointed by the president. Wiggins was appointed this week by Biden as federal co-chair of the authority.

The authority is based in Clarksdale. Mississippi has 48 counties in the DRA.

“As someone who grew up in a rural community, I’m excited about my nomination for federal co-chair of the Delta Regional Authority,” Wiggins said. “If confirmed, this would be a tremendous opportunity to create regional economic opportunity for all residents in the eight state Delta region.”

The previous federal co-chair was Little Rock, Ark., native Chris Caldwell, who previously worked on the staff of Arkansas U.S. Sen. John Boozman, a Republican. Caldwell was appointed to the post by former President Donald Trump.

Missouri Gov. Mark Parson is currently the state co-chair.

Wiggins previously served as senior vice president at Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union, nonprofits that in part focus on providing loans and assistance in low income areas in an effort to strengthen communities.

Wiggins received his undergraduate degree from Alcorn State University and his masters and doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has also taught at Jackson State University.

A news release from the White House said Wiggins “is driven by a mission to serve the community.”

In October, Mississippi U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith joined a group of other Republican senators in the Delta Regional Authority states urging the president to fill the co-chair post.

A statement from the senators said, “As a federal-state partnership, the DRA requires an affirmative vote of both a federal member and a majority of state members in order to execute its grant making activities.  We understand that the DRA does not have the statutory authority to make program eligibility determinations or new grant awards without the appointment of a federal co-chair or alternate federal co-chair. We urge you to promptly appoint a new federal co-chair to the DRA.”

Of Wiggins’ nomination, Hyde-Smith spokesman Chris Gallegos said in a statement: “Sen. Hyde-Smith is pleased a Mississippian has been nominated for this position, and she looks forward to meeting Dr. Wiggins and reviewing his credentials.”

Roger Wicker, the state’s senior U.S. senator, said, “I look forward to meeting with him and discussing the importance of the Delta Regional Authority to Mississippi.”