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What You Need to Know About Obama’s New Pick to Lead the SBA

After many months of waiting, we might finally have a new leader for the Small Business Administration, the important government agency that supports and fosters entrepreneurship in the United States.

After leaving the post vacant for nearly a year, President Obama has nominated businesswoman Maria Contreras-Sweet, the founder and chairwoman of Los Angeles’ ProAmérica Bank, to head the SBA. Contreras-Sweet is a Mexican immigrant that came to the U.S. with her family when she was 5 years old and has an impressive resume that spans both the public and private sector.

Here are some facts about Contreras-Sweet to help get to know her better.

Contreras-Sweet’s most notable achievement in the banking industry is the creation of ProAmérica Bank, a 7-year-old community bank in Los Angeles. The bank has assets of $148 million, with loans totaling $108 million, as of Sept. 30, 2013.

In the public sphere, she served as Secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 1999 to 2003. In a similar vein, she spent some of her career working at the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the corporate world, she served as vice president of public affairs for 7 Up/RC Bottling Company.

Contreras-Sweet also co-founded Fortius Holdings, a small venture capital firm that focuses on investments in Latino businesses.

The response from the small business community appears to be positive thus far. John Arensmeyer, founder and president of Small Business Majority, told BizJournals that Contreras-Sweet would likely be a good fit.

“Her diverse background working to expand access to capital, encourage investment and promote job creation in the government, nonprofit and private sectors will be an asset in her new role as SBA administrator,” Arensmeyer said.

All in all, we also think Contreras-Sweet is a solid pick for the job. She’s had enough experience over the years in both the private and public sectors to understand today’s most pressing hardships for small businesses, and to deal with the bureaucracy of government.

What do you think about the nomination of Maria Contreras-Sweet?

Image: Chuck Kennedy/Official White House Photo

Jared Hecht

Jared Hecht

Co-Founder & CEO at Fundera
Jared is the co-founder and CEO of Fundera, an online marketplace connecting small business owners to the best loans for their business. He writes frequently on small business lending and management.
Jared Hecht