In year two of implementing Bold Aspirations, we will focus on promoting active entrepreneurship and vibrant external partnerships. In July, the School of Business launched the Redefining Retirement – nicknamed RedTire – program, aimed at preventing rural businesses from closing because an owner can’t find a successor or buyer.

Dean Neeli Bendapudi explains that, “Every day in rural communities, businesses close forever because an owner retires and can’t find someone to take over the business. This is crucial to rural Kansas communities that depend on the services, jobs and tax revenue that these businesses provide. RedTire will address this issue by matching graduates with current business owners and facilitating a succession plan to keep the business running.”

Program staff will screen prospective replacement managers and candidate businesses, and then identify good matches for purchase opportunities. From there, the program will help negotiate the purchase and transition of ownership terms, help establish a business purchase loan, and monitor and help the new owners successfully run and grow their new business.

Two separate boards will supervise the program  – a Board of Advisors and a Board of Governors – which include a number of highly regarded Kansas entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“Nearly 13,000 businesses in Kansas have owners who plan to retire in five years but do not have succession plans in place,” said Wally Meyer, a RedTire director and the director of entrepreneurship programs for the KU School of Business. “So there’s certainly a need for this type of program in rural Kansas. This is another example of how KU entrepreneurship is working for Kansas.”

RedTire will assemble teams of graduates to provide the multidisciplinary capabilities that successfully managed companies require. For example, RedTire might team a pharmacy student and an MBA student to work together on purchasing a pharmacy, rather than have either individual do so alone. Ownership teams will be built across the core industries of business, pharmacy, medicine and agriculture.

“By screening participants and learning about their personal and professional goals, we can match the right graduates with the right businesses in the right community to ensure long-term success,” Meyer said. “We want these businesses to thrive and drive economic development in rural communities into the next generation.”

RedTire is available to graduates of any Kansas Regents institution and to current Kansas business owners. Services are free. For details or to apply for services, visit

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