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Chief Concerns

The SBA's new administrator speaks out about her plans for the agency.

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This story appears in the April 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

She follows in the footsteps of distinguished leaders. And yet Aida Alvarez, whom the U.S. Senate confirmed unanimously as the new administrator of the Small Business Administration, won't be standing in the shadow of her groundbreaking predecessors, Erskine Bowles and Philip Lader, for long. All who meet her say the former journalist, investment banker, health-care executive and, most recently, leader of the government's first effort to regulate the nation's two largest housing finance companies, the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, has what it takes to make historical decisions of her own.

Which is fortunate, considering Alvarez, 47, takes the SBA's helm at a crucial point. Small businesses are poised to capitalize on the opportunities offered in the 21st century and need all the financial assistance the SBA can provide. Small-business owners want "an administrator with a seat at the table, who will convey their concerns to the president," Alvarez stated in her BODYimony to the Senate. "They want an administrator who will champion the interests of small business with enthusiasm. If confirmed, I will be that champion."

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