WASHINGTON -- Karen Mills, the former venture capitalist who has headed the Small Business Administration for the past four years, is stepping down, the White House said Monday.
In a message to the agency's staff, Mills said she would stay until a successor is confirmed by the Senate.
"Four years ago, when I arrived at the SBA, America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs were struggling in the face of the worst economic environment since the Great Depression – and a banking sector that was frozen," Mills said.
"Together, we got capital into the hands of small business owners and entrepreneurs when they needed it most," she added.
The SBA provides loans, loan guarantees and other assistance to small businesses.
Over the last four years, the agency supported more than $106 billion in loans to more than 193,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs. Those figures included a record $30.5 billion in loan guarantees in 2011 and $30.25 billion in 2012.
Last year, Obama elevated the agency to Cabinet level, which means its administrator attends Cabinet meetings and has a role in broader policy decisions.
But at the same time, Obama proposed to merge the SBA with the Commerce Department and some other agencies as part of an executive branch consolidation.
Obama said Monday that Mills has helped ensure that small businesses "are better positioned to create jobs and our entire economy is stronger."
"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," Obama said. "She has played a leading role in my administration’s efforts to support start-ups and entrepreneurs."