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SBA head Mills to leave Obama administration

Updated: February 11, 2013 3:59PM

WASHINGTON — Karen Mills is leaving her post as head of the Small Business Administration, opening yet another Cabinet-rank job for President Barack Obama to fill at the start of his second term. Obama said Mills played a leading role supporting start-up businesses and entrepreneurs.

Mills has served as SBA administrator since 2009. She is the daughter of Melvin and Ellen Gordon, who run Chicago-based Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. Mills lives in Brunswick, Maine.

Before coming to the SBA, Mills worked in private equity. She was president of MMP Group, which invested in companies in consumer products, food and other areas. Mills also was a management consultant.

In a statement to SBA employees, she said she will stay on until her successor is confirmed. Mills praised the staff for helping with signature achievements.

“Together, we got capital into the hands of small business owners and entrepreneurs when they needed it most,” she said. Mills also said the SBA simplified applications for loans.

The SBA arranges loans, loan guarantees and other assistance to small businesses. Most recently, the SBA stepped in to assist businesses hurt by Superstorm Sandy, approving more than $1.1 billion in disaster loans to residents and businesses in states affected by the storm.

Mills is the latest executive branch official to leave during the traditional turnover at the beginning of a second term.

In a statement Monday, Obama credited Mills with helping businesses recover from the damaging recession. “Because of Karen’s hard work and dedication, our small businesses are better positioned to create jobs and our entire economy is stronger,” Obama said.

The advocacy group Small Business Majority issued a statement praising Mills’ record at the SBA, citing work to expand access to capital, encourage investment and promote jobs.

Contributing: Sun-Times Business Reporter David Roeder

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