WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama’s choice to head the Small Business Administration has been confirmed by the Senate.

Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins say the vote for Karen Mills came late Thursday. She told lawmakers earlier in the week that she would make it a priority to get money flowing again through the agency’s loan programs.

Mills, a venture capitalist, moved to Maine in 2001 when her husband, Barry, became president of Bowdoin College.

Collins, a former regional SBA administrator, says Mills has “exactly the experience and background” to lead the agency. Snowe says the unanimous vote is a testament “to her tremendous qualifications and outstanding record.”

Maine’s two House members also praised the appointment.

“As a small business owner myself, I know how tough it can be to make ends meet in difficult economic times,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. “It is at times like these that help from the SBA is most needed.”

In a statement after Mills’ hearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, called her an “ideal candidate.”

Gov. John Baldacci, D-Maine, also lauded the Senate approval.

“I have been particularly impressed with her ability to work in a bipartisan fashion,” Baldacci said Friday. “She will bring fresh ideas and an aggressive approach to increasing the competitiveness of the nation’s small businesses.”