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Updated: April 27, 2021

SBA's Maine office promotes deputy to director role

Diane Sturgeon started her new role as district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Maine District Office with a lot on her plate — including finding someone to succeed her as deputy district director. 

Diane Sturgeon portrait
Courtesy / U.S. Small Business Administration
Diane Sturgeon is the district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration's Maine District Office.

Sturgeon was promoted to district director after serving with the SBA Maine District Office for nine years, most recently in the deputy role. She succeeds Amy Bassett, who recently returned to her native New Hampshire to serve as district director there.

In a news release issued Monday, just after Sturgeon's promotion took effect, Bassett said, "Diane will do an incredible job leveraging the collaborative entrepreneurial network in Maine and ensuring that SBA actively participates and engages with partners and lenders to assist Maine small businesses in their recovery and growth.”

Sturgeon, who joined the SBA in April 2012 as a lender relations specialist with more than decade of banking experience, added: “I’m honored to be chosen for this role and very excited to continue to work with the incredible SBA team at the Maine District Office and the tremendous economic development and lending partners we are so lucky to have here in Maine."

She has won widespread praise from community bankers across Maine for her efforts throughout the pandemic to get emergency funding to small businesses through programs including the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

On Monday, she told Mainebiz that one of the pandemic's silver linings has been the new relationships she and her team have forged with various economic development partners and organizations throughout the state. In the past, there hasn't always been an much opportunity to work closely with them.  

"One of my goals as we work through recovery is to continue those relationships and capitalize on them to ensure we’re reaching every small business owner or potential business owner in Maine who could benefit from our services," she added.

Sturgeon also noted that one of her favorite things about working in Maine is the wealth of resources available to small businesses.

Especially now, she added, it's critical "that we get the word out about those resources to everyone who could benefit from the programs and services that are available."

Born and raised in Maine, Sturgeon graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in secondary education. She also has completed the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders Fundamentals Diploma Program, NAGGL Advanced Fundamentals classes, and participated in the Northern New England School of Banking. 

She resides on the midcoast. While the SBA's Maine District Office is in Augusta with additional locations in Bangor and Portland, staff members are mainly all still teleworking.

In her new role at the SBA, Sturgeon will be responsible for the delivery of the its financial assistance, entrepreneurial development and contracting programs statewide.

'Impressive problem-solver'

Business leaders who have worked with Sturgeon welcomed news of her promotion.

"At Kennebec Savings Bank, we are big fans of Diane Sturgeon," said Andrew Silsby, president and CEO of the Augusta-based bank. "Her honesty and humor got us through the past year of 'PPP-land.'" 

He said he especially appreciated email updates "in the wee hours of the night" and answers even when she didn't immediately know the answer, adding: "The initial rollout was a very fluid situation and the rules were changing by the day and sometimes by the hour, but Diane remained dedicated to helping all of us get through it."

Similarly, Nancy Strojny, SCORE Maine's assistant district director, praised Sturgeon as highly responsive, dependable and and incredibly hard-working.

"Beyond that," Strojny added, "she is an impressive problem-solver who is always able to address complex issues and provide real-world applications and solutions.

"Diane has a deep bench of institutional SBA and financial knowledge and is inspired by challenges, and never intimidated by them. Her effective outreach and marketing in Maine are legendary, and she brings unparalleled expertise to our small business community."

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