President-Elect Joe Biden Selects Isabel Guzman to Lead the SBA
While President-elect Joe Biden continues to fill his cabinet, he is expected to select Isabel Guzman for the top position in the US Small Business Administration.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Guzman, a former SBA deputy chief of staff under the Obama administration, would replace Jovita Carranza as administrator. Under Obama’s tenure, the role was elevated to a cabinet-level job, a sign of the import of small businesses into the nation.
While Inc. has not yet sat down directly with the incoming administrator, Guzman, a Latina, is widely seen as being responsible for running an agency that is becoming increasingly important to the health and wellbeing of the country’s millions of small businesses.
“I don’t know her well, but based on my other little business colleagues and her reputation in general, Isabel [Guzman] will be a solid fit for running the SBA, “says Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, a non-partisan advocacy group in Vienna, Virginia. Guzman, Kerrigan adds, is a strong believer in and understands small business and entrepreneurship the extraordinary challenges small businesses are currently facing.
These challenges are indeed steep. While Administrator Carranza led the SBA through the pandemic and overcame the choppy rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable loan program that helped more than 5 million U.S. small businesses lose $ 525 billion in aid, the job is far from being completed. According to Ray Greenhill, president and founder of Oxxford Information Technology, an information services company in Hagaman, New York that tracks around 32 million businesses, four million U.S. businesses are expected to close by 2020. And the latest aid program for Covid-19 can start any day. The renewed PPP, which provides US small businesses with $ 284 billion in loan financing, is expected to be more complex than Round 1 as it allows companies with significant revenue losses to have a second draw. This adds to the millions of businesses that need to apply for credit as well as other assistance programs staffed directly by the SBA.
But Guzman has shown an enthusiasm and high metabolism for the work required to help entrepreneurs and small businesses. After serving in the SBA under the Obama administration, she was director of the California office of the Small Business Advocate. There she helped most in implementing a grant program for companies affected by the pandemic.
Prior to joining the SBA, Guzman founded two companies including GovContractPros, a government contractor consulting firm in Chevy Chase, Maryland that boasts on LinkedIn for “helping government contractors access the $ 500 billion federal market with proven expertise and navigate this “. Early in her career, she worked on strategic initiatives at ProAmerica Bank, a Los Angeles commercial bank for small and medium-sized businesses seeking growth capital. Former SBA administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet is the founder of ProAmerica Bank.
Guzman’s LinkedIn profile further states that she is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her bachelor’s degree from the Wharton School of Business.
While Kerrigan and her colleagues were quick to provide an assessment of Guzman, they also had some advice: “It is important that the next SBA leader find a way to communicate regularly with small business and association executives.” says Kerrigan. Their reasoning: by giving the small business community a seat at the table, it would do exactly what Obama did by giving the SBA a seat in his cabinet. “Isabel [Guzman] has shown that she is well versed in this type of engagement and inclusivity, and I hope she will continue to practice these attributes once she is confirmed as an SBA administrator, “added Kerrigan.