Since January, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the agency responsible for handling the PPP, EIDL, and many other aid programs, has been run by a temporary, acting administrator.
Today, however, the new head of the SBA, Isabel Guzman, officially began her role. Guzman was confirmed by the Senate last week and sworn in today by Vice President Kamala Harris. Guzman, the first Latina to hold the post, has already vowed to make it easier for the smallest businesses to get help.
Her confirmation is welcome news for the many sole proprietors and small business owners in the U.S. who are still waiting on recovery assistance. Here’s what you should know about Guzman’s background and her plans for the agency.
What is Guzman’s background?
Guzman is not new to the SBA. She was the deputy chief of staff for the agency under Obama, so she’s familiar with the day-to-day operations of the SBA already. In addition to working for the SBA, Guzman was the Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate, ran her own consulting firm, and worked for private sector organizations including ProAmerica Bank. Guzman, who was raised in California, is also the daughter of a small business owner. Like other Biden cabinet picks such as Janet Yellen, Guzman is an experienced public servant with goals to improve the agency.
What Are Her Plans for the SBA?
In an interview with AP news on Friday, Guzman said her first priority was helping small businesses to recover from the pandemic and rolling out the various aid programs included in the latest stimulus package as quickly as possible, including more PPP funding and a new program to help underfunded areas access SBA loans and grants, called the Community Navigator program.
During her confirmation hearing, Guzman also hinted that she might change the rules around some programs, like removing the current loan cap of $150,000 for the EIDL program and distributing Targeted EIDL advances more broadly (she would need Congressional support to meet these goals, however).
Guzman has long-term goals for the agency as well. She hopes to improve the SBA’s processes to streamline applications and make programming more accessible. “We need to modernize the SBA,” she said. Guzman has also said that she plans to help underfunded businesses, such as sole proprietorships and minority-owned businesses, to access more funding. The SBA has been criticized for providing too much funding for large corporations and not enough for small businesses.
Who Has Endorsed Guzman?
Unlike some of the other members of the Biden Administration’s cabinet who were confirmed along party lines, Guzman had fairly broad support; the Senate voted to confirm her 81-17. She was also endorsed by many small business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Because she is the first Latina to hold the position and has made it a goal to help minority-owned businesses succeed, Guzman’s confirmation was also enthusiastically welcomed by Latinx community groups and advocates.
Conclusion: Isabel Guzman’s Confirmation is Good News for the Smallest Businesses
For the millions of small businesses in the U.S. trying to stay afloat as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Guzman is likely to be a helpful ally. Although she will need Congressional support to overhaul some programs, she has already stated that she plans to do everything in her power to make sure the SBA provides as much funding as possible to businesses in need.
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