JSU Center Grows Local Economy One Small Business at a Time


by Brett Buckner

Numbers don’t lie, but sometimes they only tell half the story.

The JSU Small Business Development Center (SBDC) assisted in the creation of 137 jobs, 33 new businesses and $3.6 million in accessed growth capital in 2022 – proving once again to be a major force in driving not only the local, but also the state economy.

The staff of the Small Business Development Center.“We embrace our work,” said Ken Grissom, SBDC at JSU director. “We take ownership and great pride in what we do.”

The JSU center, which is among seven centers in the state, offers guidance, counseling and resources to small business owners in eight counties across Northeast Alabama. Last year, it provided one-on-one assistance – provided at no cost to the client – to 412 current or potential new businesses.

“Our mantra is to improve the economy one small business at a time,” Grissom said. “When someone reaches out to us, they’re not just another number, another client. We develop long-term relationships, and that’s why we’ve been successful. We’re in the people business.”

The JSU Center is regarded as the leading SBDC center in the Alabama network and one of the top-performing among the nation’s 62 centers.

“We’ve really set the bar for the entire network,” Grissom said.

According to the 2022 Economic Impact Survey of SBDCs, JSU exceeded all three goal categories including New Business Creation, Unique Customers Served and Jobs Support. The statewide Capital Access (CAP) team, in conjunction with the SBDC at JSU, helped clients secure more than $3.6 million within the eight counties it serves and more than $101 million statewide.

“Ken Grissom and his team continue to set a high bar for the rest of the network,” said Michael Brooks, associate SBDC state director. “We certainly appreciate his leadership and his many contributions to the statewide network.”

For Grissom, the secret to the center’s success is its staff.

“They really show up and do an outstanding job,” he said. “They are the reason that we are where we are.”

What makes the JSU center staff – as well as others in the network – special is the way they treat clients.

“The Alabama SBDC Network truly cares about the success of their clients,” said Lamar Bradford, owner of SaniTyze Deep Cleaning Solutions in Jacksonville. “I received valuable resources and knowledge on how to grow and manage my business. I would recommend these services to anyone starting a business, or just trying to grow one.”

Their knowledge and guidance is an invaluable resource for current or potential business owners. Having the center on campus also creates a pipeline for students.

“We are there to promote JSU wherever we may be,” Grissom said, “but the main component is jobs created and businesses created, which results with tax generation and helps build up the community. Even though we are housed on campus, our real purpose is local outreach and resource for the university.”

Since its beginning in 1981, the JSU SBDC has contributed to the economic vitality of Alabama by helping generate sales and jobs for area businesses by partnering with the US Small Business Administration and providing resources for entrepreneurs, including:

  • Market research and assessment
  • Business strategy and planning
  • Market and revenue growth strategy
  • Capital access and loan packaging
  • Financial analysis and assessment
  • Feasibility analysis and start-up
  • Technology commercialization strategy

The SBDC is available to assist aspiring entrepreneurs in turning ideas into businesses, helping small firms with expansion and providing information a business needs to make critical decisions.

All these of these services are available for free and include one-on-one counseling, a research library, a government procurement assistant, technology assistance, workshops and conferences.