Editorial: KU outreach

A KU program that seeks to pair retiring business owners with potential buyers for their businesses is a nice example of the university providing a direct benefit to the residents of K

K-State Research and Extension pretty much sets the standard for university outreach in Kansas. Just about everyone in the state is aware of the agency’s work in agriculture, horticulture, community development and youth activities.

Kansas University hasn’t always been as well-known for its statewide outreach, but a new program sponsored by the KU School of Business may set the standard for future projects that directly impact residents throughout the state.

KU’s RedTire program is reaching out to Kansas business owners who are nearing retirement and offering to help them find successors who want to buy and continue to operate their businesses. Interestingly, the first match to be completed by the program involved two veterinarians who graduated from Kansas State University: one who had spent 30 years building a successful veterinary hospital in Junction City and another one who already lived in the Junction City area and was ready to take on the challenge of owning a business.

The vet hospital owner was nearing retirement, but he didn’t have a plan in place to sell his business. Fortunately, he did have a postcard from the RedTire program, which was able to connect him with a willing buyer. The arrangement assisted not only the buyer and seller but the entire community, which will continue to benefit from the business and services the hospital provides.

The Junction City match is the first one completed by RedTire, which began operation in 2012, but a number of other pairings are nearing completion. Program officials hope to complete six deals in the next 12 to 14 months.

This program is a great example of the KU business school, under the leadership of dean Neeli Bendapudi, seeing a need across the state and stepping up to address it. Kansas taxpayers may not always recognize how the state’s major universities directly benefit the state, but programs like RedTire and other outreach programs from KU and the KU Medical Center help make that connection.

It’s a great way to raise the university’s visibility and support across the state, which will pay dividends for KU in the years to come.