Countless rural businesses across the nation close because an owner retires and can't find someone to take over the business. This problem is likely to increase due to the growing number of baby boomers now reaching retirement age. The University of Kansas School of Business has launched a new program to halt the funeral procession and breathe new life into rural businesses in that state.
The Redefining Retirement program — nicknamed RedTire — will match qualified graduates of Kansas colleges and universities who want to own a business with current Kansas business owners who are looking to retire. RedTire, in effect, is a matchmaking service, KU says.
Program staff will screen prospective replacement managers and candidate businesses to identify good matches for purchase opportunities. The program will help provide assistance with the purchase and transition of ownership. It is free to both graduates and business owners.
"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."
RedTire will assemble teams of graduates with multidisciplinary capabilities, KU said. For example, program would 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.
"Every day in rural communities, businesses close forever because an owner retires and can’t find someone to take over the business," said Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the KU School of 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."