Small Business Administration announces new leader
Joe Biden has a nominated a new administrative leader for the Small Business Administration (SBA), Isabel Guzman. A life-long entrepreneur and the first Latina in cabinet, Guzman is an exciting new pick for the role, one that could lead to new opportunities and support for businesses struggling through the pandemic and a new voice for small business owners of color.
Who is Isabel Guzman?
Isabelle Casillas Guzman has over 20 years of experience advising entrepreneurs and helping small businesses. Guzman grew up in an entrepreneurial family, her father the owner of a veterinary hospital. She went on to Wharton business school at University of Pennsylvania before working in the commercial sector as Director of Strategic Initiatives for ProAmerica Bank.
Guzman has direct experience in the SBA, working as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet during the Obama administration. She has since led various initiatives advising small businesses, most recently as the Director of the Office of the Small Business Advocate for California.
Why did she get the job?
Guzman has proven herself a competent leader for and enthusiastic supporter of small businesses, particularly during the pandemic. Leading California’s response to the crisis, Guzman took on initiatives to provide new technology to small businesses struggling to reopen safely and has recently launched a $500 million grant programme for this year.
Another reason President Biden may have opted to nominate Guzman is her work fits neatly with his economic plan for the country. Biden plans to stimulate the economy by creating contracting opportunities for small businesses, and Guzman is the founder of GovContractPros, a consultancy that specializes in federal contracts. Guzman is also the first Latina to hold a cabinet position, a milestone hard-fought for by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and an example of Biden’s promise to make a cabinet that reflects the diversity of the nation.
What plans does Guzman have for the SBA?
Isabel Guzman knows that this is an incredibly challenging time for small businesses. a speech accepting the nomination, Guzman acknowledged that small businesses are at a “crossroads moment”, and pointed out that “all of our small businesses are critical to our collective success as a nation.” She highlighted in particular the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on small businesses owned by people of color, something that could likely feature in her plans for the SBA.