Maria Contreras-Sweet Nominated as SBA Chief

Association of Business Training
January 17, 2014 — 922 views  

It has been 11 months since Karen Mills, the former boss of Small Business Administration, announced her resignation. After quite a long search, President Barack Obama seems to have found someone to fill her shoes. Obama has found his new nominee for this post in Maria Contreras-Sweet. Maria is from Mexico and has previously worked for the government. She also has experience in small business financing.

Prior Experience Likely to Help Her

Apart from having an experience in banking, this 58-year-old has a diverse working background which has given her the consideration for certain Cabinet jobs. This impending nomination is likely to be announced in Washington at a formal event.

Maria migrated to the US when she was five. She has a string of achievements against her name. She became the first woman from Latin America to be a part of the board of Blue Cross California. She was also the first to hold the position of cabinet secretary in California state government.

Presently, she serves as the chair of the ProAmerica Bank board, which is a community bank in Los Angeles that is publicly traded. She founded this bank in 2006. Prior to that, she was the president of Fortius Holdings which is a private-equity fund co-founded by her, which specializes in small businesses in California.

All this prior experience should help her in tackling the core function of SBA that involves helping small businesses in finding capital. SBA, under Mills, has backed around $30 billion of loan over the last three years. Main Street Alliance and the International Franchise Association were two of the advocacy groups that issued statements touting Maria's lending credentials.

Decision Yet to be Confirmed by the Senate

After the official nomination, Maria will have to be confirmed for the post by the Senate. This process is likely to get much simpler as new Senate rules have come out. Senator James Risch from Idaho Republican, who is a ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee of the Senate, however, was not available for any response on the matter.

Maria's nomination will bring an end to the long wait of the department for a permanent chief. This wait even led to the speculation that Obama was planning on eliminating the administration as a standalone agency. Once the nomination is confirmed, Maria will take over Jeanne Hulit, who served as the acting administrator after Karen left the post in August for joining Harvard University.   

Association of Business Training