Regional Administrator for SBA Leaves Agency to Join Internet Business in Seattle

“After nearly six years with the Clinton-Gore administration, Gretchen Sorensen has chosen to depart the position of Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration in the Pacific Northwest.“This experience has been exciting, rewarding and one that I will never forget,” Sorensen said. “This is the largest region geographically, and the smallest in population and so SBA’s challenges in delivering services here are unique.“Through the efforts of the committed SBA staff in five district offices and all of this agency’s partners, we have assisted companies from Optiva Corporation to the Alaskan Brewing Company,” Sorensen said.As the regional administrator for Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho, Sorensen has overseen a $2 billion portfolio of loan guarantees and investments ranging from microloans to venture capital. Through the five district offices in Seattle, Spokane, Portland, Boise and Anchorage, the SBA maintains over 500 private sector lenders and venture capital firms as private sector partners in providing capital to small and mid-sized businesses.“I am proud to have served in the Clinton-Gore administration,” Sorensen said. “Under Administrator Alvarez’s leadership, we have truly created a new SBA, one that delivers products and services more effectively and one that better serves the needs of the small business community throughout this region.”“Gretchen’s work in Region X will continue long after she leaves SBA,” said Aida Alvarez, administrator of the SBA and a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet. “Her talents and expertise will be tremendous assets to her new position in an emerging company.”While the private sector lending community plays a key role in helping the SBA serve the small business community, both the Service Corps for Retired Executives, or SCORE, and the Small Business Development Center network that assist the agency with its outreach efforts that include technical assistance and advice to entrepreneurs and existing businesses.“Both SCORE membership and the SBDC network in Region X are second to none,” Sorensen said. “They are full partners with the SBA and both have played a critical role in the agency’s success, from training programs to videoconferencing and on-line counseling.”Sorensen has also served as White House Liaison for Region X during this period. She has worked with Cabinet Affairs and other departments within the White House to assist regional elected officials, organizations and constituency groups, and advised the White House on official visits of President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore to the Northwest.Sorensen left the SBA to accept a new position with, a Seattle-based business-to-business Internet operations center focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed in a changing, formerly known as, began in 1996. The company has received over $48 million in financing and has established supplier relationships with 1,000 product manufacturers, 12 Internet wholesale distributors of products, and over 5,500 independent retail partners.The company is designed to function as a one-stop center for businesses to obtain products, business services, as well as a networking area for businesses to interact and exchange information.”