Preston Sworn in as New SBA Chief

Steven Preston was sworn in as the new administrator of the Small Business Administration during a private ceremony on Monday.

The former corporate executive will become the SBA's 22nd administrator since the agency was founded in 1953. He was confirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate on June 29, following an hour-long hearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

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"I am grateful to President Bush for the opportunity to serve in a way that so directly affects the lives of so many Americans," Preston said in a statement released by the agency on Tuesday.

Preston succeeds outgoing administrator Hector Barreto, who resigned in April to head the Latino Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy group. Barreto had headed the agency since July 2001.

Preston also said he was humbled by the bipartisan support he received from Congress, and repeated a pledge made during his confirmation hearing to foster a stronger relationship with the "many stakeholders of the SBA" in both the House and Senate.

Preston, who most recently served as a vice president at The ServiceMaster, a lawn-care services firm with a network of more than 5,000 franchise locations nationwide, has also vowed to overhaul the SBA's emergency loan program, which critics attacked for its lackluster respond to small businesses in the Gulf Coast after last year's storm season.

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