A transition to new leadership at the Enterprise Center in Johnson County comes with a pledge to build upon the work of the nearly 25-year-old nonprofit, said Jeff Shackelford.
“The ECJC will continue to play a vital role in being a focal point for local companies and entrepreneurs looking to raise capital to start and grow their businesses rapidly,” said Shackelford, who was announced Wednesday as ECJC’s new president and CEO.
He succeeds George Hansen, who has served as top executive for the past six years and is retiring from ECJC this month.
“While I do not understand the actual concept of retirement, I do believe in change,” said Hansen. “I decided it was time to turn the reins over to Jeff and his team to drive even greater performance and build on our successes, while freeing me up to consider my next adventure.”
Shackelford joined ECJC in July 2019 to serve as senior vice president of investment capital and financial operations. He previously helped launch Digital Sandbox KC and was the program’s executive director for a half-decade.
“My previous five years at the UMKC Innovation Center running Digital Sandbox KC helped ingrain me in our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and provided me with insights, contacts and resources that will be vital to me in my new role at ECJC,” Shackelford said.
The incoming CEO thanked Hansen for his leadership of the organization, while also offering praise for the team members who have carried on ECJC’s mission the past 24 years and continue to build its legacy through ongoing programming and resources.
“The Mid-America Angels network [housed at ECJC] is one of the largest groups of investors in the Midwest with the ability to syndicate deals with angel networks in our surrounding states to help fund promising, early-stage companies. And with our newly created Fountain Innovation Fund, we’re working to fill that ‘valley of death’ for very early-stage companies seeking seed capital,” Shackelford said of ECJC’s investment efforts, which also include Women’s Capital Connection. “Combine the funding vehicles at ECJC with our Growth Mentoring Service program, educational programs and the Women’s Business Center, and we’re well-positioned to continue to help start and grow early-stage companies with the potential to create many new jobs for our region.”
Click here to read about the Fountain Innovation Fund’s most recent investment.
ECJC estimates the regional economic impact of ECJC-assisted companies as $3.2 billion over the past 10 years.
“The Enterprise Center is a vital resource to our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and I look forward to working with the ECJC team, Johnson County, Kauffman Foundation and other organizations in the ecosystem to continue our efforts to create and scale new businesses that grow jobs for our region,” Shackelford said.