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14 March 2008
Dr. William A. Meehan:
Small Businesses, Immense Possibilities

By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - The Jacksonville News

The College of Commerce and Business Administration (CCBA) at Jacksonville State University is ranked in the top 10 percent of business schools in the country according to the 2006 Princeton Review of “The Best 237 Business Schools.”

Within the Best Business Schools category, JSU ranks second in providing the greatest opportunity for women studying business.

The success of the CCBA department is proof that the procedures taught to students and community members are effective practices.

Under the auspices of the CCBA, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), provides a complete range of services to a seven-county area of Northeast Alabama (Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah, St. Clair and Talladega) and government procurement services to two more counties (Randolph and Clay).

Every year the SBDC assists more than 1,600 small businesses and individuals by offering counseling and training at no cost.

The JSU SBDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) and is a working institutional unit under the Alabama Small Business Development Consortium.

One of the five guiding principles of the SBA is to “inspire creativity in the American economy by developing and supporting entrepreneurs through a vast network of resource partners.”

Through areas of assistance such as business startup considerations, recordkeeping and government procurement services, the SBDC, as an entity of the Center for Economic Development at JSU, concentrates on aiding in the development of niches to enhance the cultural and economical value of the city of Jacksonville and surrounding areas.

Local niche business leader Carolyn Minerich, owner of Carmin Industries in Jacksonville, serves as a component in the SBDC’s national success. Carmin Industries was named Alabama’s Small Business of the Year in 2002 and its associate director was selected Alabama State Star in 2003.

“I wouldn’t be here had it not been for them,” Minerich says of the SBDC. “I needed guidance, went to the SBDC at JSU and, very simply, they did their job: they point the way for you, they don’t do the job for you.”

Minerich says the SBDC provided a clear step-by-step guide for her business. Almost 12 years later, after a lot of hard work, this precision waterjet cutting and metal fabrication company maintains 11 employees and has garnered contracts from a lift fixture for Engine Cowling on a B-1 Bomber capable of lifting 2,500 pounds to fabricating signs for Seven World Trade Center in New York City. This female-owned business has an AS 9100 certification, a highly valued standardized quality management system of the aerospace industry, allowing them to serve customers such as Lockheed Martin and Disney World.

Of her 11 employees, Minerich employs a JSU student part time to help with the documentation of inspections. Minerich says many JSU students who have worked at Carmin Industries have huge success stories and go on to work for other companies. She says employing students is her way of giving back to JSU for helping her get started. “It’s kind of like a circle,” Minerich says. “We show them the way.”

For more information about the Small Business Development Center at JSU, visit or call 256-782-5271.

Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and Communications, contributed to this article.

About William A. Meehan

Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.

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