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SBA Names Eastern Pa. Minority-Owned Small Business of Year

Advisory Date: 
Monday, May 13, 2019
Advisory Number: 
Robert Goza | (610) 382-3084
Next Step Associates introduced May 15

PHILADELPHIA– The U.S. Small Business Administration officially recognizes its Eastern Pennsylvania Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year, with Dr. Cassandra W. Jones, CEO and President, Next Step Associates, LLC May 15 at noon. Media are invited to attend.

WHO:  John Fleming, Acting Director, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District

Tracy Donley, Business Consultant, PA Department of Community and Economic Development  

Dr. Cassandra W. Jones, CEO and President, Next Step Associates, LLC

Invited: Local, state and federal officials

WHAT:       Next Step Associates, LLC, introduced as Eastern Pennsylvania Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year; interview and photo opportunities

WHEN:      May 15, noon

WHERE:    Next Step Associates, LLC, 7300 City Ave., Suite 310, Philadelphia PA

“It’s wonderful to have the privilege to recognize the achievements of leading minority-owned Pennsylvania small businesses like Next Step Associates,” said John Fleming, Acting Director, U.S. SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District. “SBA is proud of the role that our 8(a) business development program plays in helping small businesses grow and succeed. Dr. Jones has built the kind of successful small business that drives our nation’s economy.”

Next Step Associates (NSA) is a premier training and event-planning company for public, private-sector, and government agencies. The company has been a certified 8(a) Business Development participant since 2010 and is also located within a HUBZone. Next Step hires consultants based on an organization’s needs and training. NSA serves locally and nationally. Jones and her staff work alongside clients to develop, design, and provide comprehensive and relevant training. Next Step provides training that increases skills and overall performance in areas including accountable leadership, workforce development, diversity and inclusion, curriculum development, and executive-level coaching.

Formerly the Chief Academic Officer for Baltimore Public Schools and the Interim Chief Academic Officer for the School District of Philadelphia, Jones has always had a passion for education. Throughout her 45-year career in education, she has worked with various governmental and non-governmental organizations to achieve their mission, improve performance, and manage financial and human capital resources effectively.

Since opening NSA’s doors in 2004, Jones has taken advantage of several SBA products to expand her business. Through hard work and dedication, Next Step has grown from a home-based business to a national player. In 2010 Next Step Associates was admitted to SBA’s 8(a) program, a nine-year business development program to help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities in the federal marketplace. Graduating this year, Next Step is also a certified Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) business, continuing their partnership with agencies and clients across governments and private sectors.

“It has been an honor watching Cassandra’s business grow for the past six years,” said Jennifer Tilden, Lead Business Opportunity Specialist, SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District. “Dr. Jones’ commitment to education and professional development in the Philadelphia region and beyond is an inspiration for all types of businesses.  Next Step Associates are on the forefront of helping revolutionize corporate and instructive culture for the future.” Named one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2014 “Women of Distinction,” Jones is also a 2018 graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program in Philadelphia.

Jones serves as a Board Member and Program Chair for Community in Schools, is the City Schools’ Senior Academic Advisor on Curriculum, Professional Development, Facilities, Diversity and Inclusion, and Closing the Academic Achievement Gap for Minority Students. She is an active member of her church, serves as a mentor to the next generation of female entrepreneurs as part of her dedication to “pay it forward” and uses her talents and abilities to improve the lives of members of her community as well as her business, a  seminal part of Next Step’s corporate culture.

SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across Pennsylvania’s eastern 40 counties. These events are local observances of the annual, Presidentially-designated National Small Business Week. National Small Business Week recognizes the small business community’s contribution to the American economy. Learn more about National Small Business Week at


To request interviews or photos, contact Robert Goza, SBA’s Public Information Officer in the Eastern Pennsylvania District Office, at or 610-382-3084.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit