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Meet Isabel Guzman, the SBA Administrator Biden picked to navigate 'a crossroads moment for small businesses

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 09 Jan 2021

<p><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5ff8c218bde805001980bf5e-1952/SBA-Isabel-Guzman-3.jpg" border="0" alt="SBA Isabel Guzman" data-mce-source="Susan Walsh/AP" data-mce-caption="Caption/Description: President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Small Business Administrator, Isabel Guzman speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Isabel Guzman is President-elect Joe Biden's choice to head up the US Small Business Administration, <a href="https://buildbackbetter.gov/nominees-and-appointees/isabel-guzman/">the transition team announced</a> on Friday.</p><p>"I am honored to return to the SBA at a crossroads moment for small businesses," Guzman in a speech accepting her nomination.</p><p>She joins an economic team headlined by former Fed chair Janet Yellen for the Treasury, and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, recently announced to lead the Commerce Department.</p><p>Currently serving as the director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate, Guzman was previously deputy chief of staff at the SBA during the Obama administration.</p><p>Guzman was also listed as a volunteer on the transition's agency review team for small business, which was tasked with preparing the new administration to take over from current SBA head Jovita Carranza.</p><p>Although the Administrator is a cabinet-level position, the 68-year-old SBA has historically been one of the lower-profile government agencies in Washington. That is, until the COVID-19 pandemic and public health response devastated small businesses across the US.</p><p>Today, the SBA is responsible for handling <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/ppp-aid-for-small-businesses-whats-different-this-round-2020-12">nearly a trillion dollars in emergency relief money</a>, having issued more loans in the past nine months than it has in its entire existence before that.</p><p>"Now more than ever, our small businesses need us," Guzman said.</p><p>Guzman was raised in an entrepreneurial householdher father was a veterinarian with his own clinicand she graduated with degrees in business and economics from the Wharton business school at UPenn.</p><p>During Obama's second term, she was Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to Administrator Karen Mills.</p><p>As the leader of California's response to the crisis, Guzman oversaw a pair of initiatives to help businesses adopt new technology and to help them reopen safely, and last month launched a <a href="https://careliefgrant.com">$500 million grant program</a>.</p><p>Guzman is also the founder of <a href="https://govcontractpros.com">GovContractPros</a>, a small consultancy that helps businesses navigate more than $500 billion in federal contractsexperience that dovetails with a Biden campaign plan to stimulate the economic recovery with a substantial increase in <a href="https://joebiden.com/main-street/">new contracting opportunities for small businesses</a>.</p><p>Experts say that the new administrator will need to raise the SBA's public profile in order to effectively reach businesses across the country and support the ongoing economic recovery.</p><p>"In the early days of the Biden-Harris admin, I would love to see that [SBA] voice become stronger," a former deputy administrator at the SBA, Marie Johns, <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-taps-isabel-guzman-to-lead-small-business-administration-11610044839">told the Wall Street Journal</a>.</p><p>"The agency has got to do a better job of telling its own story. And by that, I mean building awareness in Main Street corridors around the country," she added.</p><p>Sean Salas, the founder and CEO of <a href="https://www.caminofinancial.com">Camino Financial</a>, a California small business lender serving Latino entrepreneurs, told Insider he was extremely optimistic about the SBA under Guzman.</p><p>"She's a practitioner with years of experience that will get the job done for all businesses, especially the smallest and less-served. A great appointment in my opinion," he said.</p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-get-stimulus-small-business-loans-grants-taxes" >How your small business can get loans, grants, and tax breaks from the new stimulus bill</a></strong></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-sba-isabel-guzman-small-business-administrator-2021-1#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-parasite-delivered-one-of-the-best-twists-in-cinema-2020-2">What makes 'Parasite' so shocking is the twist that happens in a 10-minute sequence</a></p>
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