Panichello takes helm at KSBDC: President Hammond expects smooth transition for FHSU-led Kansas network of Small Business Development Centers

It should be business as usual, in the very best sense of that expression.

At today's meeting of the Kansas Board of Regents, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, introduced Greg Panichello as the new state director of the Kansas Small Business Development Center Network. Panichello replaces Walter J. "Wally" Kearns, who had held the post since December 2001.

"Greg brings a proven track record and extensive experience in small business development, most recently in Utah," President Hammond told the Regents. "The KSBDC has enjoyed excellent leadership by Wally Kearns for the past decade. With Greg's combination of people skills and managements skills, we are confident that the success of the KSBDC will continue."

The KSBDC office is in Topeka. Fort Hays State University is the sponsoring agency for the network of eight regional and nine outreach centers across the state. FHSU Provost Dr. Larry Gould oversees the university's activities with the Kansas SBDC.

"Greg has had the benefit of mentoring from Wally as he prepares to take the reins of the Kansas network," Gould said. "We have real confidence in his abilities."

Hammond agreed. "We're hiring a pro and do not expect to lose anything in the transition," he said.

Panichello brings more than 20 years of experience in leading and managing banking, wholesale food distribution and small business development centers.

"While in the banking industry, I managed the financial aspects of an organization with more than $100 million in operating expenses and assets in excess of $25 billion," he said. "Through leadership, effective communication, team-building skills and strong business management skills, my wholesale food distribution business grew dramatically to $2 million a year and 18 employees. More recently, as the leader of the SBDC in Utah for the last six years, the program received increases in regional SBDC host funding as a result of increased commitment from existing hosts and the addition of new regional centers and hosts."

He said the Utah SBDC also improved statewide communications, alignment and management, with common strategies, improved relations with public partners, and recognition for quality and process improvement.

"I look forward to continuing to support and maintain the strong collaborative environment, as Wally has over the last nine years," Panichello said. "I am very excited to build strong ties with the KSBDC team, our resource partners and each community, helping to continue the efforts of the KSBDC."

Panichello has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Portland State University in Oregon and a master's degree in business administration from Marylhurst University, also in Oregon.

President Hammond thanked Kearns for his exceptional service and told the Board of Regents some of the accomplishments of the KSBDC over the past decade:

·       The KSBDC team spent weeks on site, assisting the citizens of Greensburg following the F5 tornado in 2007, and today Greensburg is one of the greenest cities in the nation and its business leaders have come together to provide support and leadership in the community.

·       The KSBDC achieved its goal of adding outreach centers to provide services to entrepreneurs in more rural locations.

·       KSBDC was involved in the start-up of NetWork Kansas, which provided entrepreneurs with a central location for business resources and a unique funding program for rural communities.

·       The Business of Art, a KSBDC collaboration with the Kansas Arts Commission, provides
entrepreneurs with tools and tips on how to promote their art and achieve business success.

·       Exit Planning for the Family Business, a KSBDC partnership with Allied Business Group, provided a full day of instruction and resources for entrepreneurs to do long-term planning in business succession and other areas.

·       Operation Veterans: Start Up and Grow, a KSBDC collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Colorado SBDC, was designed to introduce military veterans to the services provided by the KSBDC and provided an opportunity for KSBDC to learn more about the needs of "vetrepreneurs."

"Over the last several weeks, I’ve taken time to reflect on what a great opportunity it has been for me to serve Fort Hays State University as the state director of the KSBDC," Kearns said. "Over the last nine years, my experience as state director has been wonderful and a true blessing in my life, and I thank all who helped make it so, especially the KSBDC team."


The Kansas Small Business Development Center Network is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Kansas Department of Commerce. KSBDC is nationally accredited through the Association of Small Business Development Centers by Congressional mandate.

KSBDC receives funding from and partners with higher education and economic development organizations to provide Kansas entrepreneurs with no-cost business consulting and resources for starting, maintaining and growing their businesses. The statewide host for the KSBDC is Fort Hays State University. For more information about the KSBDC Network, visit or call 877-625-7232.

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