Who Will Lead The SBA Under Trump?
By Jeremy Quittner
December 1, 2016
Itmay be a while before we find out.
Consideringthe range of cabinetpicks now under way with President-elect Donald Trump's transition team,the chief of the Small Business Administration is sure to rank pretty low.
Headingup the 63-year-old-agency isn't, after all, a high profile position such asTreasury Secretary or Secretary of State; in fact, it took more than a year forthe most recent administrator to be nominated and confirmed.
Yetthe SBA is vital in terms of economic development. During the financial crisis,the agency saw itself elevated to a cabinet-level position under administratorKaren Mills. At the time, the SBA was instrumental in unfreezing credit marketsfor small-business borrowers, and encouraging banks to lend through itsguaranteed loan program. Today, the SBA has a loan portfolio, including itsflagship 7(a) and 504 loans, of $124 billion. That financing, plus itscounseling, educational and technical assistance, is a critical prop toentrepreneurs nationwide.
Theagency, which has 2,000 full-time employees, is currently led by MariaContreras-Sweet, a former entrepreneur and transportation and housing secretaryfor the state of California. She has made boosting lending and outreach tominority entrepreneurs a priorityduring her tenure.
Atleast onenews report has floated Steve Chabot, chairman of the House Small BusinessCommittee, as a potential pick for the position, but a spokeswoman for hisoffice said Tuesday that there have been no conversations with the Trumptransition team about heading the agency. "Chairman Chabot believes he bestserves small businesses as a legislator and looks forward to working with thenew leadership at the SBA and the Trump Administration as a whole," thespokeswoman said.
Hereare three possibilities for the post, according to small-business sources.
Bradfieldcurrently leads Trump's transition team for the SBA, according to the Trump transitionteam website.She has served both as a counselor to the deputy administrator and as anassistant deputy administrator of the SBA under George W. Bush. She was also astate lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, according to her publicLinkedin profile. While she lacks "big management experience," her previouswork at the SBA makes her a likely contender, says Peter Cohan, a lecturer ofstrategy and entrepreneurship at Babson College. Cohan adds that transitionteam leaders are frequently considered for posts in new presidentialadministrations.
Georgia-basedjewelry store owner Levell co-founded the National Diversity Coalition forTrump, a voter outreach group that counts among its board the conservative talkshow host Wayne Dupree, and Michael Cohen, lawyer for the Trump Organization. Aformer chair of the Gwinnett County GOP, LeVell has been a vocal advocate forTrump in many of the battleground states, as well as a frequent commentator onFox News and CNN. "I wouldn't rule anything out," LeVell said when asked by Fortuneif he was being considered for the post. "I would like to see the SBA play aconstructive role as a necessary source of credit for small business." LeVellwas also a board director for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority(MARTA).
Torettiis the former chief executive of S.W. Jack Drilling Company, reportedly one ofthe largest land based, family-owned gas and oil drilling company in the U.S.The company went out of business in 2010, after which Toretti was a financeco-chair of the Republican National Committee during the 2012 race. Toretti wasinitially in charge of Trump's transition team overseeing the SBA, as reportedby Politico in mid-November. She is currently the nationalcommitteewoman for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.
Bradfield,Toretti, and the SBA transition team did not immediately respond to Fortune'srequests for comment.
TheSmall Business Administration declined to comment.
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