After four years as administrator of the SBA, Karen Mills announced Monday that she will be leaving the agency.
In a letter sent to SBA staff, Mills said she informed President Obama that she will not be staying for a second term but will stay on until her successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.
Mills recalled coming to the SBA in 2009 describing the environment for America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs who were “struggling in the face of the worst economic environment since the Great Depression – and a banking sector that was frozen.”
During her tenure, Mills said the agency brought more than 1,000 community banks back to SBA lending, opened its 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.
The SBA also supported more than $106 billion in lending to more than 193,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs including two record years of delivering over $30 billion annually in loan guarantees, Mills said.
The agency also transformed its Office of Disaster Assistance including streamlining disaster loan application, Mills noted. During Hurricane Katrina, it took almost 77 days to get a disaster loan turned around, Mills said. Today, following several reforms, over 50% of the Sandy applications are coming in online and being turned around within 21 days, she said.
“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,” Mills said.
Prior to coming to the SBA, Mills, a native of Maine, was a founding partner of Solera Capital, an equity firm, and also served as an economic adviser to Maine Gov. John Baldacci.