The U.S. Senate today confirmed by unanimous consent President Barack Obama's nomination of Karen Gordon Mills as the 23rd Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
"Small business is the backbone of the American economy," Mills said upon her confirmation. "The SBA has a vital role to play in supporting our nation's small businesses so that they can be the key driver in getting our economy moving again. "
In testimony on April 1 before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Mills discussed her hands-on experience managing and helping to grow small businesses.
I was there on the factory floor in Arkansas and Ohio working to weather the recession of the early '90s, she said. "Those experiences give me a deep understanding of what our small businesses need today to survive this downturn and to prosper in the years ahead. Since then, I have helped grow companies in organic food, and women's media, and spent time in rural Maine working with our boat builders and composite technology to help them compete throughout the globe.
"The sum of my experience is this: I am a believer in American small business. I am a believer in America's ability to manufacture goods and services that are world class, and I am a believer in America's spirit of entrepreneurship. This spirit is one of our countrys greatest assets and we need to cultivate it today, more than ever."
Mills, of Brunswick, Maine, was president of MMP Group and has a 25-year career of investing in and growing small businesses. In 2007, she was appointed by Maine Gov. John Baldacci as chair of the states Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on attracting investment in rural and regional development initiatives. She also co-authored a Brookings Institute paper on competitive clusters.
Mills is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served as vice chairman of the Harvard Overseers. She holds a degree in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar.