Obama to name California banker head of the SBA


McClatchy Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama will name California bank owner Maria Contreras-Sweet as head of the Small Business Administration Wednesday.

Contreras-Sweet, 58, is the founder and chairwoman of the Board of ProAmerica Bank, a Latino owned community bank focusing on small business and non-profit organizations in Los Angeles.

Before founding ProAmerica Bank in 2006, she was the president and co-founder of Fortius Holdings, a private equity and venture fund specializing in providing California's small businesses with access to capital and California Secretary of the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency.

John Arensmeyer, founder and of Small Business Majority, an advocacy organization, said the move was "welcome news for small businesses and our economy."

"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 a critical asset for her new role as SBA administrator, especially during these difficult economic times," he said.

Obama will make the nomination official at a 3:40 p.m. ceremony at the White House. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Contreras-Sweet would replace Karen Mills, who left in August to join Harvard University.

She would be the final slot in Obama's second-term Cabinet. 

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