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Obama Nominates Maria Contreras-Sweet as Head of SBA

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama officially nominated Maria Contreras-Sweet to be the next administrator of the Small Business Administration Wednesday, saying she's well suited for the job because she intricately knows the details of starting a business herself.

"I wanted somebody with a proven track record of helping small businesses succeed; somebody who had firsthand experience both in the private sector and the public sector who can work with us and work with me to increase growth and expand opportunity.  I wanted somebody who understands entrepreneurs, and it would be even better if that somebody had actually started a business of her own," the president said with Contreras-Sweet standing by his side.

"She understands the needs of small business owners like herself.  She knows how they can lift entire communities, and ultimately how they lift our country," he said. "As we work to keep our economy growing, Maria will be charged with looking for more ways to support small businesses -– to help them get that good idea off the ground, to expand, to hire, to sell their products and ideas not only in our domestic markets, but also overseas."

The president shared a story told to him by Contreras-Sweet, who moved to California from Mexico when she was a child and later served as California's Secretary of Business, Transportation and House Agency.

"Her grandmother, back in Mexico who was a migrant worker, said to her that if she worked hard, studied, stayed in school, that someday she’d be able to work in an office as a secretary and really make her proud.  And she ended up being the Secretary of Business Development and Transportation in California.  And now she’s going to be helping the folks who are following behind her achieve their dreams," the president said. "That’s what America is all about."

Contreras-Sweet is the founder of ProAmérica Bank, a California bank which works with small- and mid-size businesses. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Contreras-Sweet also previously served as secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

Contreras-Sweet would fill the spot previously held by Karen Mills, who left the position last year to work at Harvard.

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