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Only hours after he received unanimous approval from the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, new SBA administrator Hector V. Barreto Jr. was already speaking with a strong sense of passion about his new job.
Liberally sprinkling his conversation with the word "we," the Los Angeles entrepreneur talked broadly about the key issues he wants to address during his tenure at the helm of the SBA, including affordable health insurance and the day-to-day barriers (such as excessive regulation) entrepreneurial companies face.
But before Barreto can address those issues or the SBA's image problems, he'll face a budget shortfall of at least $84 million.
Still waiting on final budget numbers from Congress at press time, Barreto intended to "look at agencies and programs to make sure they are working the way they should-empowering U.S. small businesses." He also wanted to position the SBA more strongly on the advocacy front lines.
One of the first hurdles Barreto will face has less to do with the agency than with himself. He is largely unknown in small-business circles and has no broad national expertise. His most extensive organizational experience has been garnered as vice chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and as chairman of the Latin Business Association in Los Angeles.
But that doesn't seem to bother small-business organizations, which applaud Barreto's confirmation across the board because he is an entrepreneur-the owner of Barreto Insurance and Financial Services Inc.
Barreto isn't concerned either. "I've had the opportunity to work with many leaders, so I know a lot of the individuals [I'll be working with] already. I'm going to continue fostering those relationships, but I'm also committed to reaching out. I think people will get to know me very quickly. I'm going to make sure I get out in the field because that's where things happen and where things get done."