CAMEO congratulates Maria Contreras-Sweet, the founder and board chairman of ProAmérica Bank in Los Angeles, who was nominated by President Obama to head the Small Business Administration on Wednesday.
Contreras-Sweet’s experience gives her a unique understanding of community banking, the non-profit world and large government agencies. In addition to founding a community bank, she was founding director of The California Endowment and the cabinet secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. Throughout her career, she has worked closely with small businesses and advocated for opportunities for Hispanics.
Contreras-Sweet spoke at our Viva! event in 2009 and is a founding board member of the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce (formerly Latino Business Chamber of Greater LA), a CAMEO member. We’ve heard firsthand that she understands the importance of micro-businesses to the economy.
Microbusinesses, those with fewer than 5 employees, have very different needs from businesses with over 100 employees. And it’s the very small businesses create the jobs. From 2004 to 2010, U.S. micro-businesses (1 to 4 employees) created a net of 5.5 million jobs, more than any other firm size. And microbusiness ownership is a productive pathway to the American Dream by many immigrants, minorities, women and other underserved populations.
Contreras-Sweet would become the second Hispanic and the eighth woman in Obama’s Cabinet. CAMEO is excited to have a friend who understands the needs of very small businesses in such a position. CAMEO looks forward to working with her to help entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes create jobs and businesses and as President Obama said, “help lead the way — because small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy.”