US President Donald Trump has appointed Georgia native, Ashley D. Bell, to serve as the next Small Business Administration (SBA) southeast regional administrator. Bell, Trump’s first minority appointment to an SBA regional position, will be sworn in on Monday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.

As regional administrator for the SBA’s Region IV, Bell will oversee nine district directors—Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi. Bell’s offices will be in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Under his purview, Bell will supervise each director’s delivery of all agency services to over 500 employees and partners dedicated to ensuring entrepreneurs have the support and tools they need to start, grow and succeed in business.

“The SBA plays a critical role in helping to start and grow businesses,” Bell said. “Now, more than ever, the economy is growing and we must do our part to help America’s small businesses.

“As a small business owner and entrepreneur from the young age of 23, I am committed to the SBA’s mission to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation,” he continued.

Since its founding on July 30, 1953, the SBA has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses. It’s four programmatic focuses include: access to capital and federal contracting opportunities; counseling and mentorship; and financial assistance following declared disasters.

Bell relocated from the Atlanta metropolitan area in 2016 when, as a presidential candidate, Trump tapped him to serve as a senior strategist for the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Washington, D.C.

Prior to his SBA appointment, Bell served as associate director for External Affairs for the U.S. Peace Corps and special assistant in the Public Affairs Bureau of the US State Department. During the Trump-Pence transition, he served as Communications & Intergovernmental Affairs lead on the landing team at the State Department.

“I’ve enjoyed my time serving our country in foreign affairs the last year with both the State Dept. and at the Peace Corps,” Bell said. “I’m honored that the administration gave me this opportunity to come back to Georgia in helping to create jobs and opportunities in the Southeast.”

Bell founded and continues to serve as a partner in a law firm, Bell & Washington, in May 2006. Bell & Washington’s team of Atlanta family lawyers, criminal and DUI / DWI defense attorneys, and personal injury attorneys also specialize in workers compensation cases, education law, government affairs and public finance.

Bell also was a founder of the 20/20 Leaders of America, the first and only nationwide organization of leading black Democrats and Republicans working together on criminal justice reform.

Bell earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2002 from Valdosta State University and acquired his J.D. from Louisiana State University. He’s been named one of America’s top 40 attorneys under 40 by the American Bar Association, a National Impact Leader of the Year by IMPACT DC, and was a 21st Century Leadership Fellow at the Harvard University JFK School of Government.

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