WASHINGTON –SBA Administrator Karen Mills today announced her departure. Following is the note that was sent to SBA staff.
Dear SBA Team:
After four years as Administrator of the SBA, I have let President Obama know that I will not be staying for a second term. I will stay on until my successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.
Serving as SBA Administrator, and seeing this Agency rise to meet the economic challenges we faced when I arrived four years ago, has been both a privilege and an honor.
As I have said to President Obama, and leaders in Congress, “We are a small agency with a big mission.” We advocate for 28 million small businesses. We are responsible for the individuals who create two of every three net new jobs in our economy. And I cannot think of a better team to support these job creators. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone across the SBA for the work you have done to help America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners during this critical juncture in our nation’s history.
Four years ago, when I arrived at the SBA, America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs were struggling in the face of the worst economic environment since the Great Depression – and a banking sector that was frozen.
Together, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work. And from day one, each of you stepped up and fulfilled the mission of what the Agency was created to do. And you should be proud because our accomplishments are significant.
Together, we got capital into the hands of small business owners and entrepreneurs when they needed it most. We streamlined and simplified SBA programs, in some cases taking more than one hundred pages of paperwork out of the applications for some of our loan products. We brought more than 1,000 community banks back to SBA lending, opened our loan products to more mission-based lenders to reach communities hardest hit and secured a $20 billion commitment from 13 banks to increase their small business lending over a three-year time frame.
Over the last four years, SBA supported more than $106 billion in lending to more than 193,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs. This includes two record years of delivering over $30 billion annually in loan guarantees. And today we are using our streamlined lending programs and products to get capital to communities that are still struggling and to fill market gaps.
We helped increase American competitiveness through an aggressive push around high growth entrepreneurship. We launched Start-Up America, passed a long-term reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and completely transformed and streamlined our Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program. As a result, the SBIC program just had its third consecutive record-breaking year in FY12. Today, the SBA is the place where venture capital firms, start-ups and high growth entrepreneurs turn for proven tools and counseling to scale their operations and reach new markets in the U.S. and abroad.
We’ve transformed our Office of Disaster Assistance. A hallmark of these efforts is our streamlined disaster loan application. During Hurricane Katrina, it took almost 77 days to get a disaster loan turned around. Today, following important reforms, over 50 percent of the Sandy applications are coming in on-line and being turned around within 21 days. I have seen the impact of your work during my recent travels and you should be proud of the role that you are playing, across the Agency, to help those affected rebuild their lives and their businesses.
Together, we’ve made selling to the federal government easier and more efficient. We’ve taken a zero tolerance stance on fraud, waste and abuse in federal contracting, created an Administration-wide emphasis on the importance of small business contracting and made it easier for small businesses to apply for federal contracts and to get paid quickly once they win contracts. As a result, in the last three years of reporting, small businesses have accessed more than $286.3 billion dollars in federal contracts. That is $32 billion more than the previous three years, even as overall contract spending decreased during those years.
Working with our resource partner network, we’ve improved the delivery of our counseling and mentoring services. Today, our SBA “bone structure” includes a national network of Agency field offices, more than 900 Small Business Development Centers, 300 chapters of SCORE and more than 100 Women’s Business Centers with over 14,000 members. This network is more integrated and coordinated than at any time in SBA’s history. And we are using it to meet entrepreneurs where they are—whether that’s on-line, one-on-one or in the classroom.
Because of your hard work, the SBA has established itself as the voice of small business and entrepreneurship both in Washington and across the country. We have a seat at the table because President Obama knows the important role that small businesses play in our economic growth and global competitiveness. And he understands that the SBA has the tools and the team to take America’s small businesses to that next level, so that they can drive energy and momentum into the economy. That’s why the President elevated my position to his Cabinet, so we can make sure that small businesses and entrepreneurs are a centerpiece of America’s growth agenda.
And because of the work you have done the SBA has become the place that small businesses and entrepreneurs turn for trusted and reliable information on legislative issues and changes to the tax code and regulations that will affect their businesses. It is because of your work that we were able to pass the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the most comprehensive piece of small business legislation in over a decade.
The SBA is in a strong place. We are mission driven. Under the leadership of our Deputy Administrator Marie Johns, we just signed the first new master agreement with our employees’ union in over a decade. We have strong leaders in place across the Agency who are poised to achieve great things.
Small businesses are now ready to go on the offensive. They are ready to expand to new markets, to scale their operations and to hire new workers. And I am confident that the SBA will be a driving force in their success for decades to come.
So on a personal note, let me just say thank you. I came to the SBA and Washington from the private sector and the great state of Maine. And on both a professional and a personal level this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. And I have each of you to thank for that.
The President entrusted me with this enormous responsibility and I believe with your assistance America’s small businesses today are well positioned to do what they do best: grow and create jobs. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to serve.
Thank you all for your support and for everything that you do to strengthen America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. They are in good hands with the SBA.
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