Sen. Snowe Meets with SBA Nominee

The official process to get Santanu "Sandy" Baruah situated as head of the Small Business Administration is slowly moving along since President Bush announced his intention to nominate Baruah last month.

Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, met with Baruah this afternoon for about 30 minutes in her offices on Capitol Hill. Among the concerns she expressed with Baruah, is his positions on the controversial women's procurement issue, according to a Senate aide.

"For nearly eight years, the SBA has chosen the path of absolute least resistance and ignored a congressional mandate to make certain that women-owned small businesses can finally have a procurement program that makes a real difference," Snow said in a statement released today. "I am very concerned that the SBA will just re-issue this flawed rule as the final rule and undermine the will of Congress. That's why in our meeting today, I demanded Mr. Baruah make a commitment to either withdraw this proposed rule or defer action on this issue until the next administration."

Sen. Snowe hopes to question Baruah publicly this summer in a hearing before Congress adjourns for its August recess, a Snowe aide said. Panel Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) sets the committee's schedule.

The aide noted that Snowe would like to have the hearing soon because it could be disruptive to go through a lengthy confirmation process during hurricane season. Since the SBA provides disaster relief services to homeowners and businesses, late summer and fall months can be an exceptionally busy time for the agency.

Baruah currently is the nation's assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

By Sharon McLoone |  July 16, 2008; 5:07 PM ET Policymakers
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I appreciated Senator Snow's attention to discussion issues impacting business ownership by women in her recent meeting with EDA Director and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Sandy Baruah.

That said, I feel strongly that Secretary Baruah would be an outstanding choice to serve as SBA Administrator and I was very pleased to see that President Bush nominated him for the post.

A female entrepreneur, I own a fishing charter business in Destin, Florida (SURE LURE Charter Company). Obviously, the commercial and charter fishing business sector is an untraditional one for women to be involved; however, I am quite enthusiastic to grow the business given the right set of conditions and policies presented both locally and nationally.

From my knowledge of Sandy, he would pave the way for many more women to get involved in small business ownership in non-traditional fields, and trust he would do all he could through policies and programs to support the same without outside pressures and prompting. Likewise, he would act with strategy to open the realm of entrepreneurial opportunities for all Americans regardless of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, etc.

Further, as the former head of economic development and commerce for the State of Florida, I had the opportunity to see on many occasions Sandy Baruah's effective leadership of the EDA. Post our region's bouts with devastating hurricanes, I witnessed Sandy and his team's hard and steadfast work to make a difference in our recovery. Part of his work included hand-to-hand partnership with SBA to quickly and compassionately provide resources (infrastructure grants, bridge loans, housing assistance, etc.) to get our communities back on their feet. Sandy Baruah is a stellar professional and understands economic, business, and grant/loan issues intimately.

I am proud to be among the many who throw our name behind the nomination of Sandy Baruah, and are hopeful that the Senate will see fit to confirm his nomination expediently with full confidence in his ability to lead with great honor and ability.

Posted by: Pam Dana, Sure Lure Charter Company, Destin Florida | July 17, 2008 10:00 AM

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