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Karen Mills
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Karen Gordon Mills served in President Barack Obama's cabinet as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 until August 2013. She is currently a Resident Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics. In January 2014 Ms. Mills will become a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School focusing on U.S. Competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation.

As SBA Administrator and a cabinet member, Mills served on the President’s National Economic Council and was a key member of the White House economic team. At the SBA, she led a team of more than 3,000 employees and managed a loan guarantee portfolio of over $100 billion. Mills is credited with turning around the agency, streamlining loan programs, shortening turnaround times, and reducing paperwork. These efforts resulted in record-breaking years for SBA lending and investments in growth capital. In addition, Mills helped small businesses create regional economic clusters, gain access to early stage capital, hire skilled workers, boost exports, and tap into government and commercial supply chains.

Prior to the SBA, Mills held leadership positions in the private sector, including as a partner in several venture capital and private equity firms, and served on the boards of Scotts Miracle-Gro and Arrow Electronics. Most recently, she was president of MMP Group, which invested in businesses in consumer products, food, textiles, and industrial components. In 2007, Maine Governor John Baldacci appointed Mills to chair Maine’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on regional development initiatives, including a regional economic cluster with Maine’s boatbuilding industry.

Mills earned an AB in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. Additionally, she is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was vice chairman of the Harvard Overseers.

Entries by Karen Mills

Investment in Infrastructure Will Help Small Businesses Drive Economic Growth

(1) Comments | Posted February 28, 2014 | 8:21 AM

This week I had the pleasure of participating in Harvard Business School's "America on the Move Summit" alongside business leaders like Jeff Immelt from GE and Mary Barra from GM. Our event came right on the heels of the President's announcement that he will push for a "grand bargain on...

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A Blow to America's Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

(5) Comments | Posted October 2, 2013 | 9:31 PM

I've spent most of my career in the private sector. I've run companies, invested in businesses, and helped grow start up ventures. When President Obama asked me to join his administration as Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2009, I tried to apply some of the lessons I...

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Entrepreneurship and the Middle Class: Growing Our Economy From the Middle Out

(62) Comments | Posted August 11, 2013 | 4:32 PM

America's economic growth is driven by twin engines -- the stability and success of the world's strongest middle class, and the ingenuity and drive of our country's entrepreneurial spirit. These two forces are inextricably linked; a strong middle class fosters innovation and encourages entrepreneurs to start their own businesses, which...

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Getting Small Businesses the Capital They Need to Grow and Succeed

(1) Comments | Posted June 10, 2013 | 2:27 PM

As our economy improves, are U.S. small businesses getting the capital they need to grow, to create jobs and to accelerate our country's economic momentum?

That's the central question that will be addressed today as some of the country's leading entrepreneurs, investors, bankers and policy leaders gather for the third...

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It's a Small (Business) World: The Benefits of Exporting

(4) Comments | Posted March 6, 2013 | 7:19 PM

Today, nearly 96 percent of consumers and over two-thirds of the world's purchasing power reside outside the United States. Here at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), we know that these consumers play an important role in the long-term success of America's small businesses, and are working to help small...

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Igniting the Engine of Economic Growth

(8) Comments | Posted February 17, 2013 | 6:14 PM

Yesterday, I was in Memphis, Tenn., visiting the West Tennessee Ornamental Door Company, a thriving manufacturer of steel security doors, fences and gates for homes and businesses. The company received SBA loans to support the working capital needs of their business -- and it's now positioned for growth and to...

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Shop Small on Saturday, November 24th, 2012

(1) Comments | Posted November 19, 2012 | 4:29 PM

In between the Black Friday sales and the Cyber Monday deals is Small Business Saturday (November 24th) -- a day set aside to support the small businesses that play a vital role in creating jobs and economic opportunities all across the country.

Small businesses are the back bone of our...

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An Inclusive Vision of Entrepreneurship

(0) Comments | Posted October 11, 2012 | 7:26 PM

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the National Association of Women Business Owner's (NAWBO) conference in Louisville. It was a chance to talk about the issues and the opportunities that women business owners and entrepreneurs face as they build innovative and successful companies across the United States....

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Streamlined and Simplified: The New SBA

(3) Comments | Posted October 10, 2012 | 8:14 PM

As Administrator of the SBA, I have the opportunity to travel around the country meeting with small business owners and entrepreneurs. As you talk to these men and women, and walk the shop floor of their facilities, you understand exactly why America's small businesses are the economic engine of our...

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SBA and America's Banks are Increasing Small Business Lending

(6) Comments | Posted September 25, 2012 | 3:47 PM

A year ago, Vice President Biden and I visited a small manufacturer in Solon, Ohio. The company, Wrap Tite, used an SBA loan to purchase and renovate their new facility and to hire five new workers.

While on the shopfloor of that plant, we announced...

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Now Is a Great Time to Start a Business

(103) Comments | Posted October 13, 2010 | 12:12 PM

In the recession of the mid-1970s, Frederick Smith needed financing to get a national distribution system for air cargo off the ground. He was able to get $5.8 million through the SBA's Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program. Today, that company is known as FedEx.

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SBA Disaster Assistance: Then and Now

(4) Comments | Posted August 26, 2010 | 2:54 PM

Tommy and Maria DeLaune are a prime example of small business owners who suffered a one-two punch from Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater BP oil spill. They run Tommy's Seafood, a New Orleans seafood processor and wholesaler that employs about 20 people.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, the business suffered...

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