What We Do
The Alabama Small Business Development Center network is a statewide, inter-institutional program to enhance economic growth in Alabama by providing management and technical assistance to small businesses. Professional Business Advisors are available in 10 Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) located at our member university partners across the state.
Start / Grow
The Alabama SBDC Network specializes in one-on-one business advising and educational training for small businesses. Programs of assistance are developed in response to small business needs and growth opportunities for expansion of the state’s economy. In FY 2021, the Alabama SBDC Network served 3,714 small businesses with one-on-one advising and provided educational training to over 3 thousand individuals to enhance their business skills. As a result of technical assistance, over 300 new small businesses were started in FY 2021; SBDC business advisors helped businesses secure almost $77 million in external financing; over 970 new jobs were created.
The Alabama SBDC Network provides existing and aspiring entrepreneurs with the expert assistance, tools, training, and education they need to succeed.
Creating a stronger Alabama economy by helping small businesses grow.
Since 1985, the Alabama SBDC Network has offered professional, one-on-one assistance to Alabama companies that want to compete for government contracts. Our certified procurement specialists assist firms on a one-on-one basis and utilize a unique bid-match database system to help small businesses bid on government contract opportunities. Over the last three years, the Alabama SBDC Network helped small businesses win over $3 billion in prime and subcontract awards.
Established in 1979, The Alabama International Trade Center operates statewide to provide one-on-one trade assistance to assist small businesses to increase export sales and boost the state’s economy. Teams of export professionals provide export counseling, research, and training to help small firms enter foreign markets. The Center also provides export financing programs to help firms expand international sales. Each year the Trade Center helps small businesses create new export sales and secure export financing for shipments of Alabama-made products to foreign markets. www.aitc.ua.edu
What is an SBDC?
A Small Business Development Center (SBDC) advises and trains business people in a wide variety of business topics and provides comprehensive information services and access to experts in many fields. Business advising services are provided at no charge to small business owners. SBDCs develop and maintain partnerships among community organizations and local, state and federal agencies, providing a focal point for a broad network of public and private resources at the community level. SBDC partnership programs and activities serving small businesses have contributed significantly to economic growth in Alabama and across the nation.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) administers the nationwide SBDC program while implementation of program in Alabama rests with the Executive State Director and the participating organizations within the state. In Alabama, several state universities host SBDCs, while our Birmingham SBDC is located at the Innovation Depot. The Alabama Small Business Development Center Network has been serving Alabama’s entrepreneurs and small businesses since 1980. The Alabama SBDCs make up 10 of the over 1100 SBDC service centers nationwide. SBDCs are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.
Quality Control & Accountability
The Alabama Small Business Development Center places great importance on monitoring and measuring the quality and economic impact of the services that we provide. Below are measures that we have in place to ensure that we are focusing on our mission and delivering the best service possible to entrepreneurs and small businesses in Alabama.
- Individual staff members are assigned annual deliverables across a number of different areas, including the number of clients assisted, number of direct business advisory hours provided to clients, number of long-term clients assisted, training programs organized, economic impact generated, and more.
- Advisory staff members are required to receive at least 20 hours of professional development training each year to ensure that they are staying up-to-date on the latest business trends and issues affecting clients; new advisors are required to obtain 60 hours of professional development over their first two years of employment.
- Centers are required to collect and publish success stories that highlight how the SBDC was able to help a client achieve success.
- All clients are surveyed by the Lead Center for overall satisfaction and quality control. Results are benchmarked internally, between centers and advisors, and externally against other SBDC programs and economic development organizations.
- All clients receiving five or more hours of business assistance are surveyed annually by a third-party researcher to gather economic impact.
- Annual programmatic reviews are conducted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
- Accreditation reviews are conducted every five years by the Association of Small Business Development Centers. Accreditation standards are derived from the Baldrige National Quality Program. The review process was noted as a Best Practice by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
- Financial reviews are conducted every two years by an SBA examiner.
- The University of Alabama conducts internal programmatic and financial reviews annually.