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CNBC 'Next List' nominee talks jobs growth and small business

Maria Contreras-Sweet, the 24th administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, has been nominated to the CNBC Next List.

With a background as a business executive, founder of a commercial bank and former California secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing, Contreras-Sweet was named to her current position on April 7.

On CNBC's "Power Lunch," she said she was most proud of a record 55 months of consecutive job growth.

Maria Contreras-Sweet
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Maria Contreras-Sweet

"We know it's been driven by small business," she said Thursday, adding that two-thirds of all new jobs are created by small businesses. "Half of the private workforce is employed by the small-business community."

The SBA also recently reached a record in lending, surpassing its allotted $17.5 billion to where it had to request another $1 billion."And what I'm really delighted to say is particularly in the disenfranchised areas, where we had not had the kind of lending we wanted to see, we are up by 35 percent with African American and 15 percent with Hispanics and women," she said.

Contreras-Sweet said she had also eliminated fees for SBA loans under $150,000, as well as streamlined the process for borrowers.

"So, already we've seen an uptick on those small-dollar loans," she said. "And then banks say, 'It's too much paperwork for our client. It's too much monitoring for us.' So we put in an new algorithm so that the banks can be more efficient, save pages of paperwork, time and it also allows more people to get through the system."