Commerce Official Nominated to Head SBA

UPDATE: President Bush today nominated Santanu "Sandy" Baruah, the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, to head the Small Business Administration.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who chairs the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said he plans to review Baruah's record carefully to ensure that he's the right person for the job. "The next administrator at the SBA must be ready to offer creative solutions for the current credit crunch, implement programs that will actually help women and minorities gain access to federal contracts and loans, and make sure that small firms have access to counseling and training to grow their businesses in this tough economic climate," he said in a statement.

In his current role as assistant secretary Baruah (pronounced Bah-roo-ah) manages the domestic economic development arm of the Commerce Department. Before working at the department, Baruah spent seven years with the Portland, Ore., corporate management consulting firm Performance Consulting Group, a small business with fewer than 50 employees, where he worked with clients such as Walt Disney World, Intel and Key Bank. During the George H.W. Bush administration, he held positions in the office of the secretary of Labor and the secretary of the Interior. Baruah also worked on the George W. Bush campaign in 2004.

In March testimony (pdf) before a House appropriations subcommittee, Baruah said his office has largely been successful because of its commitment to "supporting collaborative regional economic development and focusing on competitiveness and innovation, and fostering entrepreneurship." He added that for 2008, "I have added a fourth policy priority: to link our American regional economies to the worldwide marketplace. This new policy priority reflects the fact that too many areas still view economic development as a city vs. city, county vs. county, and state vs. state competition. The 21st century reality is that we exist in an integrated worldwide marketplace."

By Sharon McLoone |  June 25, 2008; 4:46 PM ET Policymakers
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