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Small Business

Cassie Ward Chandler Recognized as “2019 State Star”

Cassie Chandler, SBDC Business Advisor at Jacksonville State University, has been awarded the “State Star” award from the Association of Small Business Development Centers in recognition of her contributions to serving Alabama’s small business community.  The national association presented Chandler with the award in Long Beach, CA on September 3rd, among her peers at the group’s annual conference.

Cassie, who primarily serves a seven-county region that includes Gadsden, Anniston, and Pell City, has worked with over 230 businesses and entrepreneurs over the last two years, including 18 entrepreneurs that started their business with her expert guidance.

The statewide Alabama Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, an economic development and outreach service based at The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business, provides no-cost management and technical assistance to small businesses in all 67 counties.  The Alabama SBDC at JSU has been part of the Network since its inception in 1980.

Clients accolades are abundant: “I appreciate the help I received from Cassie at the Jacksonville SBDC office. With her help, we were able to ensure the licensing and tax aspects of our business were in place. I was also impressed that she followed-up with us after our meeting and answered important questions for me,” says Shayna Whitfield of Whit’z KidZone in Oxford.

Joshua Molten, of Sytec LLC in Jacksonville, says the SBDC is “always open and helpful even when I need information 3 days before a deadline.”

Elienna Minniefield, from Karing Hands in Anniston, summed it up best when she said, “the service I received was excellent.”

“We’re proud to have the State of Alabama represented by Cassie at our national conference.  She is part of a great team that allows the Alabama SBDC to out-perform many other economic development efforts in the state – and in the country,” says Bill Cummins, Executive State Director of the Alabama SBDC Network.

Dr. Bill Fielding, Dean of the School of Business & Industry at Jacksonville State University, says “Cassie is an outstanding employee of Jacksonville State University. She exemplifies the embodiment of motivation and ability that we seek in the School of Business and Industry.”

The State Star award is given annually to an outstanding business advisor from each SBDC network.  Criteria include showing a strong commitment to small business success, making significant contributions to the state SBDC program, and being an exemplary performer.

Chandler earned an undergraduate degree in Accounting, and an MBA with a concentration in Accounting. Before joining the Alabama SBDC at Jacksonville State University as a Business Advisor, she worked in both public and private accounting. Chandler teaches accounting courses at JSU, researches and publishes in the accounting field, and is a reviewer for an academic business journal.  Chandler has previously received awards for excellence in teaching, research, and service.

Last year, the Alabama SBDC helped over 200 businesses start and facilitated over $72 million in capital for small growing small businesses; almost 1200 new jobs were created by Alabama SBDC clients.

Download press release here.

The Alabama SBDC unlocks the potential of any business by providing business expertise normally reserved for large, established companies. Alabama’s small business community turns to the trusted business advisors at the Alabama SBDC for guidance on growing or starting a business, accessing capital, selling to the federal government, or exploring international trade. The Alabama SBDC Network is a statewide program funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Hosted by The University of Alabama. It is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs, the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States. Contact the Alabama SBDC at 877‐825‐7232, 205‐348‐1582, visit, or email

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