Karen Mills, the only Maine resident serving in President Obama's Cabinet, announced Monday that she is stepping down as head of the Small Business Administration after nearly four years on the job.
Mills, who lives in Brunswick, was sworn in as administrator of the SBA in April 2009 and led the agency during a tumultuous time as the Obama administration struggled to get the economy back on course. As administrator, Mills was responsible for an agency that in 2011 supported more than $30 billion in loans to small businesses and assists businesses with everything from federal contracting to disaster relief.
Obama elevated the SBA administrator job to a Cabinet-level position, making Mills a key part of his economic team. On Monday, the president praised Mills for her time in office.
"Over the last four years, Karen has made it easier for small businesses to interact with the federal government by reducing paperwork and cutting through red tape," the president said in a statement. "She has played a leading role in my Administration's efforts to support start-ups and entrepreneurs. And she was instrumental in the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act. Because of Karen's hard work and dedication, our small businesses are better positioned to create jobs and our entire economy is stronger."
In a letter to SBA staff, Mills said she plans to stay on the job until a successor is appointed. She plans to return to Maine but did not specify her plans after leaving the agency.
"So on a personal note, let me just say thank you," Mills wrote. "I came to the SBA and Washington from the private sector and the great state of Maine. And on both a professional and a personal level this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life."
Mills is married to Barry Mills, the president of Bowdoin College. Prior to joining the SBA, Mills was president of MMP Group, a business investment firm.
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