Tech Village to get new outfit

A financial advising business based in Minneapolis has signed a lease to open a branch office and learning lab for college students in a small storefront in Duluth’s Tech Village.

JNBA Financial Advisors has agreed to a five-year lease with the Duluth Economic Development Authority for 2,000 square feet on the Superior Street level of the building.

JNBA will partner with the business school students in the upstart certified financial planning program at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Richard Brown, the chairman and CEO of JNBA and senior fellow with UMD’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics, said the JNBA will have two employees in Duluth and up to 20 students come fall semester.

“We are going to try to better prepare graduates for the competitive marketplace by providing real-world experience though the learning lab,” Brown said.

The storefront, next to the restaurant Takk for Maten, is the former location of the University of Minnesota Duluth small business incubator, which moved upstairs in the Tech Village.

The JNBA deal is a portion of about 9,000 square feet that DEDA oversees in the Tech Village. The remaining 7,000 square feet remains vacant.

“That has been a certain concern to me,” said Jeff Anderson, a DEDA commissioner and city councilor. “DEDA has paid for this area, this spot, so it’s important to me to go ahead and create economic development and jobs. If it sits empty, it does us no good. Unfortunately for us, it has sat empty for many years.”

Anderson said there are no current plans for the remaining 7,000 square feet.