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Obama Picks Maria Contreras-Sweet to Lead the SBA

Obama Picks Maria Contreras-Sweet to Lead the SBA
Maria Contreras-Sweet
Image credit: naaonline.org

After more than six months without a leader, the Small Business Administration may finally have a new chief.

President Barack Obama is set to nominate Maria Contreras-Sweet, the founder of ProAmerica Bank, as the new leader of the SBA later today, according a senior administration official.

Once nominated, Contreras-Sweet will still have to be confirmed by the Senate.

The SBA has been without a permanent chief since August, when Karen Mills vacated the post despite vowing to stay on until the President had replaced her. Jeanne Hulit, the SBA's associate administrator in the Office of Capital Access, has been serving as a temporary chief.

Related: SBA Shows High-Tech Startups Some Love

The nomination of Contreras-Sweet, a Latina woman, may be an effort to stave off some of the flack the White House has received for having too many white men in its cabinet. The head of the SBA was elevated to a cabinet-level position during Obama's first term in office.

Contreras-Sweet is the founder and chairman of the board of the Los Angeles-based ProAmerica bank, a community bank catering to Latino entrepreneurs. Members of the small-business community were pleased with the White House's selection.

"We are optimistic that with the announcement of Maria Contreras-Sweet to lead the Small Business Administration, President Obama and his Administration will be focused on fostering and encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit of this country," said Katie Vlietstra, vice president for government relations at the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), an advocacy group for the self-employed and micro-businesses. "Our community will need a strong and vocal advocate inside the Administration to ensure we have the tools and resources to be competitive not only locally, but also globally."

Related: SBA Chief Karen Mills Leaving With No Replacement Named

Catherine Clifford is a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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