Hector Barreto, the head of the federal Small Business Administration, is leaving his position to take the helm of the Latino Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy group.
To succeed him, President Bush nominated Steven Preston, an executive vice president for ServiceMaster, a nationwide network of more than 5,000 franchises for lawn care, plumbing, and other services. Preston, who joined ServiceMaster as chief financial officer, has also served as senior vice president and treasurer of First Data and as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers. His nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
As head of the Latino Coalition, Barreto will be stepping into the contentious debate over immigration; as administrator of the SBA, he was at the center of controversy over the agency’s response to September 11 and Hurricane Katrina.
According to the Associated Press, although the SBA provided nearly $5 billion in disaster-recovery loans to small businesses after the attacks, many recipients said they neither wanted nor knew they were receiving money earmarked for terror victims. Companies that received aid included an Oregon winery and a Virgin Islands perfume bar, the wire service reported.
The AP also reported that one month after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, tens of thousands of applications for disaster-recovery loans were pending, but none had been handed out.
“In the last five years, we have seen the complete and utter abandonment of our small businesses courtesy of the Bush administration,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), according to the wire service. “It’s time for a change.”