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SBA chief in ABQ: small businesses doing ‘terrific’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The President shaved the administrator’s husband.

There was a televised incident— before Trump was elected, before he appointed Linda McMahon to oversee the U.S. Small Business Administration, back when she was the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment— in which the future leader of America body-slammed and subsequently shaved the pate of one Vince McMahon during what was billed as the “Battle of the Billionaires.”

That was 11 years ago. Much has changed since then.

Though she has long been accustomed to the spotlight, Linda McMahon is now one of the most prominent women in government. She is a Cabinet member of the Trump administration (asked what she finds most surprising about the Cabinet, McMahon quipped, “That I’m on it”), charged with advocating for the country’s small business community and overseeing 68 district offices. She visited Albuquerque on Monday as part of a nationwide tour of those offices and the organizations they serve.

“Small businesses are doing terrific in America,” said McMahon at Exhibit Solutions of New Mexico, which sells trade show products. She spoke highly of the owner of the company, Gina Euell, whom she said “talks with great passion.”

Euell, the New Mexico SBA Small Business Person of the Year in 2012, said federal government contracting has been an important part of her business’s growth.

McMahon told the Journal that for a state like New Mexico—which has an unemployment rate that hovers around 6 percent, one of the worst such rates in the nation— the agency’s services become not just important, but crucial.

“A job is a precious thing to have, and it becomes a source of pride,” said McMahon.

For the current fiscal year to date, New Mexico has been the recipient of $193.5 million in federal contracting dollars to small businesses; $42.9 million for small businesses owned by women; $10.9 million to firms that are part of a historically underutilized business zone; and $6.4 million to small disadvantaged businesses, according to information provided by the local district office.

Asked about the impact of the president’s controversial steel and aluminum tariffs on the small business community, McMahon said she believes the action will ultimately drive prices on those materials down and “be good for job and business growth.”

The tariffs, which placed levies on steel and aluminum imports but exempted those from Mexico and Canada, have been widely criticized by foreign leaders and some Republicans who say the action could create a trade war.

A hint of McMahon’s former occupation appeared during a tour of Exhibit’s printing area, when she admired a crimson-hued banner on display.

“Red is a hard color to get right,” she said.

Later, McMahon said she was familiar with the challenges of printing red because it was used frequently at WWE. It is a color, she said, she associates with power.