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Obama's Pick for SBA Chief Would Be an Advocate for Underdogs

Former entrepreneur Maria Contreras-Sweet brings plenty of experience fighting for the underserved and underprivileged.
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President Obama will nominate Maria Contreras-Sweet as the new head of the Small Business Administration, according to the Washington Post Wednesday.

If confirmed, Contreras-Sweet's experience in both the corporate and government realms mean the SBA would be led by an entrepreneur and advocate who's fought for the underserved and underprivileged in minority communities.

The 58 year old, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, immigrated to the U.S. with her parents and five siblings at age 5. She is the founder and chair of ProAmérica Bank, a Latino-owned community bank in Los Angeles, and was previously secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. Contrereas-Sweet also co-founded a private equity fund called Fortius Holdings, which specializes in California small businesses. 

According to the Associated Press, the President says that Contreras-Sweet "understands what small businesses need and how they can lift up the nation's economy." She is widely known as an advocate for the Hispanic community.

The nomination seems also to be in line with the President's desire to overhaul the U.S. immigration system--an issue of great importance to many small business owners.

Contreras-Sweet would be the second Latino in a Cabinet-level position in the Obama White House. The news comes six months after Karen Mills, who was celebrated for reviving the organization after years of neglect, left for a position at Harvard. 

Though it's still unclear what Contreras-Sweet's specific initiatives would be, she may soon have one big task on her plate: making the case the SBA should even exist. Last month, three Republican senators introduced a bill that would consolidate the SBA and essentially combine it with the departments of Commerce and Labor.

Check back for more updates on this story. 

Last updated: Jan 15, 2014

NICOLE CARTER | Staff Writer | San Francisco Bureau Chief

Nicole Carter is Inc.'s San Francisco bureau chief. She was previously an editor at New York Daily News, and her work has also appeared in Consumer Reports magazine.




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