SBA chief Mills to leave Obama's Cabinet

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While the SBA does not lend directly to businesses, it backs loans to encourage banks to invest in small businesses as part of a nearly $90 billion portfolio. The agency also counsels businesses and helps small firms land about 23 percent of all federal government contracts, for a total of $100 billion a year.

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam GravesSamuel (Sam) Bruce GravesDemocratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials Trump administration to repeal waterway protections Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties MORE (R-Mo.) said Mills was "particularly helpful" to his panel in the "successful effort to reauthorize the [Small Business Innovation Research] SBIR program, the first full reauthorization in a decade."

The SBIR program provides federal research grants to small businesses to spur innovation.

"She brought experience to an important position, and the profile of the Small Business Administration was elevated on her watch," Graves said. 

"I am hopeful that President Obama’s replacement will be an energetic and experienced voice for small businesses."

Mills got an early start in the Obama administration, making SBA a priority for Obama within days of his election victory in 2008.

She was part of the SBA transition team that crafted a plan to pull the agency out of a quagmire in the early days of the financial crisis before being confirmed to her post in April 2009.

Mills thanked SBA staff for making her time at the agency “one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

“The President entrusted me with this enormous responsibility and I believe with your assistance America’s small businesses today are well positioned to do what they do best: grow and create jobs. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to serve,” she wrote.

For more on Mills, check out The Hill’s interview with her last year.

This story was last updated at 1:11 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.