President Obama announced Maria Contreras-Sweet as his nominee to lead the Small Business Administration on Wednesday. A businesswoman who has extensive experience in both the private and public sectors, Contreras-Sweet makes a great candidate to fill Obama’s final cabinet seat. Here are five reasons why her nomination is a step in the right direction for small businesses across the nation.
1. She knows how to manage on a massive scale. From 1999 to 2003, Contreras-Sweet served as California Secretary of Business, Transportation, and Housing. According to this article from NY Daily News, she managed 40,000 employees and controlled a $12 billion dollar budget. With this experience under her belt, she should be well-prepared to move up to the national level of representation and management.
2. She founded a commercial bank. Contreras-Sweet founded ProAmérica Bank in 2006. The bank focuses on members of the Latino community and gives financial assistance to small and medium-sized businesses. Contreras-Sweet is no stranger to the challenges and triumphs of small business ownership; her first-hand experience with starting a business gives her intimate knowledge of what being a business owner is like and what their needs are.
3. She knows a good business plan when she sees one. After leaving her position as the California Secretary of Business, Housing, and Transportation, Contreras-Sweet co-founded a venture capital firm called Fortius Holdings, LLC. Her experience with identifying promising startup companies and providing financial assistance to them will give her the knowledge necessary to understand what makes starting and growing businesses work.
4. She’s invested in her local community. Besides being a Board Member for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, she is also the co-founder of Hispanics Organized for Political Equality (HOPE). The organization seeks to help young Hispanic women get involved in politics in their local communities. Her philanthropic work in her community and her dedication to empowering local groups and organizations will translate well into helping empower small business owners on a large scale.
5. Most importantly, she understands the importance of gaining access to capital. This article from the Washington Post notes that Contreras-Sweet “understands the pressing need for credit and capital of many small business owners.” Since Contreras-Sweet understands the plight of starting or fledging business owners who may not be able to qualify for traditional loans, she would be likely to faithfully oversee SBA programs such as the MicroLoan Program that are interested in helping small businesses gain access to capital.
Small business owners from all states should take note as we wait to hear if the Senate will confirm Contreras-Sweet. We hope that if she is confirmed as Administrator of the Small Business Administration, small businesses will continue to grow and recover from the economic strife of 2008 at an even faster rate.