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Alabama Small Business Development Center Network

2020 State Star: Katherine Zobre

Katherine Zobre, SBDC Business Advisor at the University of Alabama, has been awarded the “2020 State Star” award from the Association of Small Business Development Centers in recognition of her contributions to serving Alabama’s small business community.  Due to the pandemic, the national association was unable to present the award to Zobre at the group’s annual conference last year; instead she was recognized alongside the 2021 recipients at a virtual event.

Katherine primarily serves entrepreneurs and small business owners in a ten-county region that includes Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Selma, but works with individuals throughout Alabama; she assisted over 1,200 businesses and entrepreneurs over the last two years, including 85 entrepreneurs that started their business with her expert guidance.

The statewide Alabama Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, an economic development and outreach service at UA’s Office for Research & Economic Development, provides no-cost management and technical assistance to small businesses in all 67 counties.  The University of Alabama has been part of the Alabama SBDC Network since its inception in 1980, and has hosted the statewide headquarters since 2012.

Katherine Zobre Alabama SBDC University of Alabama

Clients accolades are abundant: “Katherine Zobre is always so knowledgeable and helpful. Her advice has helped us expand … and open a second location!” says Elizabeth Wood of Joyful Food in Hoover.

Martin Leiter in Tuscaloosa says, “Katherine has been extremely helpful and knowledgeable. There is no way we would be as far along in the process of building a business if it weren’t for her expertise.”

Krystal White in Pinson summed it up best when she said, “My advisor Katherine Zobre is AMAZING to say the least. I have paid for business coaching in the past and participated in other business building programs and none of them hold a candle to the wealth of information and assistance Katherine has provided. I feel like I can achieve the goals I have set for my business because of her.”

“We are very fortunate to have someone like Katherine, who not only has a passion for helping entrepreneurs, but has the skills and experience to back it up.  She is part of a great team that has allowed the Alabama SBDC to be recognized as a high-performing and results-oriented economic development organization,” says Bill Cummins, Executive State Director of the Alabama SBDC Network.

“Katherine’s dedication to her client’s success exemplifies the mission of the Alabama SBDC to be a driver of growth,” said Dan Blakley, UA associate vice president for economic and business engagement. “Her efforts bring jobs to Alabama’s people, stability to our communities and innovation to our economy.”

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.

Zobre earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science & Economics from the University of Maryland, and a Master of Science from the Universisteit von Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Before joining the Alabama SBDC at the University of Alabama, she worked for small businesses in New Jersey, and Nice, France, volunteered for the US Peace Corps in small business development in Senegal, and operated her own business consulting firm in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Over the last two years, the Alabama SBDC helped over 400 businesses start and facilitated over $311 million in capital for growing – and recovering – small businesses; over 2,000 new jobs were created by Alabama SBDC clients.

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 – Office for Research & Economic Development.  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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