KTEC chief resigns

Tracy Taylor had been under fire for months

Tracy Taylor, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp., has resigned, it was announced Tuesday.

Taylor, who has been under fire in recent months, will stay on until June 30. KTEC’s board of directors said it would name an interim chief executive officer and conduct a national search for a permanent leader.

“Taylor has provided tremendous leadership for KTEC for more than seven years,” Linda Reinhardt, chairwoman of the KTEC board of directors, said in a prepared statement.

“He truly understands the needs of technology entrepreneurs and has aggressively moved the state forward to capture opportunities in software and information technology, biosciences, advanced manufacturing, aviation and clean tech. Kansas is much better off for his leadership and contribution,” she said.

The news release made no mention of recent problems at KTEC or what Taylor plans to do in the future. His resignation came after a more than two-hour closed-door session that KTEC’s board agenda said was for the discussion of “legal matters.”

A state-funded agency that started in 1987, KTEC’s mission is to grow the technology economy.

In recent weeks, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is now secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, had vetoed KTEC’s funding, saying the agency had become ineffective.

A recent evaluation of KTEC by a consulting firm said KTEC should continue operating but that it needed to be more open and focused. Taylor had said the analysis included factual errors.

After Sebelius’ line-item veto, lawmakers restored some of KTEC’s funding, but cut the agency’s annual budget from $12 million to $7 million.

Kansas’ new governor, Mark Parkinson, had said he wanted the Legislature to reassess KTEC’s role. Parkinson has yet to act on the final state budget, which includes KTEC’s appropriations.

Several Democratic legislators had complained that KTEC was too secretive — and they criticized Taylor’s $280,000 salary.

Recently, Taylor had been the subject of articles in the Lawrence Journal-World about serving as board chairman of Urigen Pharmaceuticals, which KTEC had invested in.

In its annual report, Urigen said Taylor was compensated $37,000 for his work on the company’s board. But Taylor and Urigen officials said that was an error in the federal filing report, and that he wasn’t compensated.

Last week, KTEC’s executive committee issued a statement, saying its internal investigation cleared Taylor of any allegations concerning Urigen.

State Rep. Doug Gatewood, D-Columbus, and a member of the KTEC board, said in an interview that he looked forward to “a change in direction and management strategy.” He said he thought Taylor had been asked to step aside by the Parkinson administration, but Parkinson’s office declined to address that issue.

In a statement, Parkinson said KTEC needed to change. “I look forward to working with KTEC’s leadership, and the Legislature, to identify what KTEC’s role will be going forward.”

Ted Haggart, a KTEC board member from Lawrence, said in the news release that Taylor had served KTEC “honorably and capably.” And Tom Lauerman, another KTEC board member, said “Taylor’s willingness to step aside demonstrates true leadership.”