By Denise Perreault
PBN Staff Writer
CENTRAL FALLS – Small business remains the backbone of the economy and its success will be instrumental in leading Rhode Island out of the recession, said Karen G. Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration after a visit Monday to Central Falls and Pawtucket hosted by Congressman David N. Cicilline.
“We had a good set of meetings,” Mills said of her visits to Tolman High School in Pawtucket, Comfort Dental and Progreso Latino in Central Falls.
Mills told Providence Business News she was most impressed with Carmen Sanchez, a dentist who owns and operates Comfort Dental in Central Falls as well as another clinic of the same name on Broad Street in south Providence.
“[Sanchez] is an example of what I have the best job in the world,” Mills said, referring to the fact that SBA has supported Comfort Dental with loans that allowed Sanchez to expand her business and add a second clinic on Dexter Street in Central Falls.
Mills called the clinic “absolutely stunning, of the highest quality” and said Sanchez is a “successful, brilliant entrepreneur who is giving back to the community.”
“These are the job creators,” Mills said.
Cicilline, who Mills said is “real friend to the SBA,” said the administrator’s visit “reinforces how important small business is to our economic recovery.” Sanchez told Providence Business News she took the opportunity to thank Mills for the SBA support. She estimated she treats about 60 to 65 patients daily at both clinics.
President Barack Obama last week elevated the SBA administrator position to a Cabinet-level post. The move, Mills said, shows that the President remains true to the focus he set on small business since he took office and confirms how integral he sees the SBA to the nation’s economic recovery.
Mills visited a business class at Tolman High School, where she said she met “the next generation of entrepreneurs,” and took part with Cicilline in a roundtable panel discussion on minority-owned small business at Progreso Latino.
Mills said she always is “delighted” to come to Rhode Island because she has relatives who live here. Her husband, Barry Mills, president of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, is a graduate of Pilgrim High School in Warwick and grew up in the Ocean State, she said.