Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills is out in August, but there's still no word on her replacement.
SBA press secretary Emily Cain said the SBA "is working closely with the White House on transition plans and on the appointment of a successor." Sam Graves, chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, called the state of things "disappointing" since the White House has had "long enough of a notice." Mills' is the only second-term vacancy that President Barack Obama has yet to fill.
Some speculate the lack of urgency may have stemmed from Mills' initial promise to stay put until the White House confirmed a replacement. However, Mills reneged on her "pledge to the president" Wednesday when she announced she's leaving at the end of August to take on roles at the Harvard Business School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Many would argue that Mills helped revive the SBA, making it more vital and open than it was under President George W. Bush. When she inherited the agency, its budget had been cut nearly 30 percent since 2001 and staffing had waned almost 20 percent. She managed to assist small businesses at record levels and was one of only a handful of women to head up the SBA in its 60-year history.
Of course, not everyone is a fan of Mills, least of all republicans who have lobbied for the agency to close for years. "The economy is just not rebounding, and in terms of [Karen Mills'] legacy, I'm not blaming her, but I think the Administration did not do enough to help small businesses recover," Susan Eckerly, senior vice president for public policy for the National Federation of Independent Business, a right-leaning lobby, told Inc. in February.
Still, her work on the Small Business Jobs Act from 2010 was commendable. It strengthened small business lending, increased financing to growing sectors including small business exporters, and increased loan amounts for key lending programs. She also expanded the Small Business Investment Company structure to include venture firms that want to invest in start-ups. Time will tell if her successor follows her lead.