By DAN MCCUE
(CN) – Linda McMahon, the co-founder and former chief executive officer of World Wrestling Entertainment is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be the next head of the Small Business Administration.
In announcing McMahon’s nomination, Trump said she “has a tremendous background and is widely recognized as one of the country’s top female executives advising businesses around the globe.”
He also lauded her for helping to grow WWE from a modest 13-person operation to a publicly-traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees.
“Linda is going to be a phenomenal leader and champion for small businesses and unleash America’s entrepreneurial spirit all across the country.”
McMahon left WWE, which she co-founded with husband Vince McMahon, to run for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Richard Blumenthal in 2010. After she lost that contest, McMahon set her sights on Connecticut’s other Senate seat, but ultimately lost her 2012 bid to replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman to Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy.
McMahon currently advises global businesses as part of APCO Worldwide’s International Advisory Council.
She is also the co-founder and chief executive officer of Women’s Leadership LIVE, LLC, “a company that uses live events and ongoing mentorships to educate and inspire women to launch and expand their own businesses, advance their careers toward executive roles, and pursue opportunities for leadership in public service,” according to a statement from the Trump transition team.
McMahon served on the Connecticut Board of Education in 2009 as an appointee of Gov. M. Jodi Rell, and she has also served on a number of philanthropic and public service boards, including those of organizations that help returning veterans transition back into the workforce.
In the statement announcing her nomination, McMahon said “small businesses are the largest source of job creation in our country.”
“I am honored to join the incredibly impressive economic team that President-elect Trump has assembled to ensure that we promote our country’s small businesses and help them grow and thrive,” McMahon said.
Mike Brey, president and founder of Hobby Works and member of Small Business Majority’s Small Business Council, said McMahon’s limited policy experience makes it hard to divine exactly what she might bring to the job.
“If you’re me, you don’t know whether to be excited or indifferent or worried because there’s not a lot to point to,” Brey, himself a small business owner, said in an interview.
On one hand, McMahon did once build a small business, the WWE, into an internationally recognized brand. Her Republican leanings could also make her amenable to easing restrictions on banks giving SBA-backed loans to small businesses, which businesses might welcome.
On the other, however, it has been many years since her business was small and she will serve under a president who could well see the SBA as an expendable part of a bureaucracy he has promised to cut.
“I understand that WWE started off as a little 13, 14, 15 person company … but it’s hard to image now that a billionaire is going to be sensitive at all to the needs of a small business,” Brey said.