TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback today appointed Leawood businessman George Hansen as Kansas commerce secretary.
Hansen was CEO and president of the Enterprise Center of Johnson County, a nonprofit organization for entrepreneurs and venture development. He replaces Pat George, who retired in July.
“George Hansen’s entire career has prepared him to lead the Commerce Department,” Brownback said in a statement. “He understands the needs of businesses and the environment that will attract them to expand and grow in our state.”
Hansen also has been CEO of Zave Network, a digital commerce company and a director of TGP Investments, private equity firm. He’s a member of the dean’s advisory board at the University of Kansas School of Business and serves on the boards of nonprofit organizations, including KC Next and the KU-Edwards Workforce Development Advisory Board.
Hansen took over as CEO at the Enterprise Center in 2013. In May 2014, he told Johnson County commissioners the center needed emergency funds or he would be forced to begin its “orderly dissolution.” The money was needed to offset the Kansas Legislature’s decision not to help fund the center.
Commissioners approved the request, which brought the county’s total commitment in 2014 to $732,000. Several commissioners voiced reservations, with one saying he was concerned about “bailing out an economic program.” Others said the center had a strong role in creating jobs.
Melissa Roberts, Enterprise Center marketing director, said in a new release that Hansen has a deep understanding of entrepreneurship and that the center’s staff and board “have been lucky to work closely with George and to witness his business acumen, deep industry expertise, quick wit and common sense.”
“I am honored to be appointed to this position, and I look forward to serving the citizens of Kansas,” Hansen said in a statement. “Kansas is a great state for businesses to grow and prosper.”