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And The SBA's Next Chief Is REALLY...

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...Karen Gordon Mills, a Maine-based investment manager, according to an account in today's Portland Press Herald. (ABC News reported the story yesterday.) Obama is said to make the announcement today in Chicago. (Hat tip to an alert and thoughtful reader for forwarding the Maine paper's story.)

Mills, who served on Obama's SBA transition team, has been described as a venture capitalist, but she's really from the world of private equity. According to a bio from Arrow Electronics, where she's a director, she's served since 1993 as the president of the Brunswick, Maine-based private equity group MMP Group and until 2007 was a founding partner in Solera Capital, a private equity partnership in New York. (She's also the lead director of Scotts Miracle-Gro and serves in Maine as chair of the Governor's Council on Competitiveness and the Economy.)

Though this certainly doesn't preclude her from doing well at the agency -- see, for instance, Steven Preston, who was an executive at ServiceMaster before George Bush appointed him administrator -- it's not exactly an ideal resume for working with and advancing small business. Unless, that is, your agenda includes expanding the definition of small business, something that Fred Hochberg, one of Obama's SBA team leads and a contender for agency helm himself, recently proposed.

There is a hint of bipartisanship here -- according to the Press Herald, Mills was recommended by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, the ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee and long a close collaborator with the committee's Democrats. Snowe recently urged Obama to restore the agency to cabinet-level status, a view she shares with many Democrats (including Hochberg) and the SBA's small business allies (including the National Small Business Association).

The fact that Obama is set to announce Mills's appointment at the same time as he makes his choice for Secretary of Labor (Rep. Hilda Solis, Democrat of California) suggests that this is exactly what he intends to do.

Last updated: Dec 19, 2008




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