Ashley Bell has been appointed regional director for the Small Business Administration in the Southeast.
Bell, a lawyer and former member of the Hall County Board of Commissioners, has held several positions in the Trump administration — most recently as an associate director of the Peace Corps. He got in early with President Donald Trump’s campaign and Republican forces in the general election.
“I’m a Day One guy for the administration,” Bell told The Times in a call from Atlanta on Tuesday.
Bell worked in communications for the Republican National Committee during President Donald Trump’s campaign, and after Trump’s election Bell worked in communications for the State Department transition team before moving to the Peace Corps to work in external relations with other agencies, the public and Congress.
“I was honored to serve in foreign affairs for the State Department and the Peace Corps, and I never intended to stay in D.C. longer than a year,” Bell said. “My year was coming up, and I definitely was interested in coming back home.”
Working with the Trump administration and SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, of professional wrestling fame, Bell found a place in Atlanta with SBA.
“Ashley is a true leader, skilled communicator and a devoted advocate for the small business community,” McMahon said in a Tuesday announcement. “He will be a strong voice for small business owners, and I look forward to working with him to help more entrepreneurs across Region IV.”
Now, Bell will be returning to Georgia to head up the SBA’s operations in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“I’ve been commuting from Gainesville to D.C. since August of ’16, so I’ve been home every weekend and trying to balance going back and forth with my family — my wife and kids have been in Gainesville since the election,” Bell said. “... I was humbled by the opportunity to continue to serve in this administration but also do it from home.”
Bell worked in the Peace Corps for about nine months and for three months in the State Department and other administrative roles.
“People might look and say, ‘Wow, a year doesn’t seem like a long time to be anywhere,’ but I’ve outlasted a lot of people,” Bell said, laughing. “A year in politics is a lifetime — in presidential politics.”
He’ll be sworn into his new position on Monday and started work in the new position this week. He says he’ll be an effective advocate for small business in the region.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur, a small business owner, every day of my adult life until I took this job in government. It’s definitely something that’s near and dear to me. I started my law firm, started my first business in Hall County,” Bell said. “I know what it takes to risk your time and money and to put it all on the line after chasing a dream.”