By Ben Wolfgang
The Washington Times
President Obama on Wednesday named his choice to lead the Small Business Administration and established an electronics technology hub in North Carolina, but those and other steps won’t bridge the gaps that still exist between his administration and the broader business community.
Business leaders took their own shots at the President Wednesday morning, suggesting the White House is missing the mark by focusing most of its energy on federal investment and rising income inequality and should instead seek to heal a still-troubled economy through growth.
Speaking at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, Business Roundtable President John Engler had a tongue-in-cheek response when pressed on what Mr. Obama could do in the short term to jump-start economic growth.
The president surely will not take Mr. Engler up on his advice, though the commander in chief did step forward Wednesday with his pick to head the SBA, an important liaison between the federal government and business owners across the nation.
Mr. Obama tapped Maria Contreras-Sweet, a banker and former California state official, to lead the agency.
Speaking at the White House, the president said Ms. Contreras-Sweet, a Mexican immigrant to the U.S., brings to the table all the qualifications needed for the job.
“I wanted somebody with a proven track record of helping small businesses succeed, somebody who had first-hand experience both in the private sector and the public sector who can work with us, and work with me, to expand growth and opportunity,” Mr. Obama said. “I wanted somebody who understands entrepreneurs. And it would be even better if that somebody had started a business of her own.”
Ms. Contreras-Sweet certainly fits that bill. She is board chairwoman of ProAmerica bank, a Los Angeles-based community bank she founded in 2006.