Small Business Advocates Urge Congress to Quickly Confirm New SBA Leader Guzman

Because the SBA Administrator is the lowest-ranking member of the president’s cabinet, it could take a while for the Senate to get around to confirming Guzman, despite the urgency given the crisis faced by small businesses because of the pandemic.

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January 24, 2021

Author : Alex Bustillos

Joe Biden has been sworn in as President of the United States but his picks to fill his cabinet positions remain mostly unfilled. With no date set for a confirmation hearing for Isabel Guzman, Biden’s nominee to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA), a coalition of small business organizations is calling for a swift confirmation.

In a letter to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 83 organizations including the National Cooperative Business Association, urged committee chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and ranking member Ben Cardin (D-MD) to “expeditiously schedule a confirmation hearing for Isabel Guzman.”

“Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on entrepreneurs, their employees, and their communities. 62% of small businesses fear the worst is yet to come. Main Street employers and employees are counting on leadership at the SBA to deliver.”

Signatories on the letter include: The Women's Business Enterprise National Council, America's SBDC, The Women Veterans Business Coalition, The National Association of Women Business Owners, The Association Of Women's Business Centers, The Transportation Alliance, The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, The HUBZone Contractors National Council, The Latino Coalition, and many more.

The letter notes that Guzman will be expected to deliver on the second round of Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans to small businesses across the country.

But because the SBA Administrator is the lowest-ranking member of the president’s cabinet, it could take a while for the Senate to get around to confirming Guzman, despite the urgency given the crisis faced by small businesses because of the pandemic.

In addition to administering critical coronavirus relief programs including PPP, the SBA is responsible for handling the certifications of small businesses that qualify them to take contracts with the federal government that are set aside for certain types of businesses, including Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs), 8(a) "Section 8" firms, and HUBZone firms. Also the U.S. Veterans Administration is currently transferring duties for certifying Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) to the SBA.

Guzman is intimately familiar with this process. Formerly, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Administrator a the SBA from 2014 to 2017.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Guzman went on to co-found GovContractPros with the slogan “we help government contractors access the $500 billion federal marketplace.” According to bios listed on the website, the two other co-founders also worked at the SBA, as did two of the three consultants listed on the website’s team page.

Simultaneously, since April 2019, Guzman was also the Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate.

On the day that the news became public that Guzman was Biden’s pick to lead the SBA, she tweeted “We have to build our economy back better from this pandemic. Small businesses and their employees will be core to our recovery and I will work around the clock to help them re-open and thrive.”

“Isabel brings substantive small business and startup experience to the table, which is critical given the state of Main Street and the need to help entrepreneurs rebuild and strengthen their businesses,” said Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the non-profit Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council in a press release. “Moreover, the SBA is playing an outsized role during the pandemic in delivering capital to small businesses, and her experience working within the agency during the Obama Administration provides her with a needed head start to lead the agency during this challenging period.”

America’s SBDC, the “parent brand and the national association recognized by the federal government, by statute, as the representative of America’s Small Business development center (SBDC) network” congratulated Guzman and said they look forward to working with her to expand opportunities to small businesses.

"Isabel Guzman, the first Latina named to a cabinet-level position by President-elect Biden, comes with significant experience in access to capital as well as being an entrepreneur herself. Her expertise will be critical during this time of economic uncertainty as we continue to work to get capital into the hands of women business owners across America," said Cristina Morales Heaney, National Board Chair of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Looking for more information on Joe Biden’s plans for the Small Business Administration? Check out our articles Team Biden Releases Plan For Women Owned Businesses and Joe Biden’s $400 Billion Procurement Plan.

Category : Minority Business Enterprises Women Business Enterprises Coronavirus Pandemic Federal Government Small Business Administration

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