WASHINGTON—President Obama has nominated Maria Contreras-Sweet, founder and chairwoman of a Los Angeles community bank, to become administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
If confirmed, Contreras-Sweet will succeed Karen Mills, who left the SBA last September to accept a post at her alma mater, Harvard University. Jeanne Hulit has been acting administrator since.
A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Contreras-Sweet immigrated to Los Angeles with her family when she was 5. In 2006, she founded ProAmerica Bank, a bank that helps entrepreneurs in the Latino community and elsewhere obtain access to credit and financial services.
Before founding ProAmerica Bank, Contreras-Sweet was secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. She was the first Latina to serve in the cabinet of the California state government.
The news of Contreras-Sweet's nomination was received warmly by the U.S. small business community.
"The nomination of Maria Contreras-Sweet to lead the Small Business Administration is welcome news for small businesses and our economy," said John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of the advocacy group Small Business Majority.
"Her diverse background working to expand access to capital, encourage investment and promote job creation in the government, non-profit and private sectors will be an asset in her new role as SBA administrator," Arensmeyer said.