American Public Media will launch a 10,000-square-foot shared workspace in downtown St. Paul called the Glen Nelson Center.
With the help of the Knight Foundation, the center will house a new business incubator.
The Glen Nelson Center is slated to open officially in the fall at the recently established Osborn370 building on Wabasha and 5th streets, which many know as the former Ecolab headquarters. Applications to be a part of the incubator will start to be made available next month and work with the startups is scheduled to begin this summer.
"The Glen Nelson Center is really about future-proofing public media and American Public Media and recognizing that we are in an era of significant change and disruption generally and in the media environment in particular," said Jeff Freeland Nelson, the general partner of the Glen Nelson Center and an entrepreneur himself.
The center was funded by more than $1 million in gifts made to Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media in honor of Glen Nelson, a surgeon and longtime board member at the firms who died in 2016. Nelson was also the husband of former Carlson Cos. Chief Executive Marilyn Carlson Nelson.
"We are immensely grateful for Marilyn Carlson Nelson and her family's support of this initiative and its dedication to Glen's mission," Jon McTaggart, chief executive of American Public Media Group, said in a statement. "This wouldn't be possible without the scores of friends who made memorial gifts in honor of Glen."
Newman's Own Foundation and the Bill Kling Innovation Endowment also contributed.
The first program at the Glen Nelson Center will be Lunar Startups, which plans to provide services to help other startups at the space. Lunar Startups was launched with a $1 million grant from the Knight Foundation, which has doled out millions for art projects in St. Paul for its annual Knight Arts Challenge.
The foundation invests in journalism, arts, technology and community programs in 26 cities where the Knight brothers once published newspapers, which includes St. Paul, the location of the formerly Knight-owned St. Paul Pioneer Press.
"This just reinforces part of [the Knight brothers'] belief around investing in equitable, inclusive parts of our communities," said Jai Winston, St. Paul program director for the Knight Foundation. "It also complements our journalism program."
The center with Lunar Startups will host two cohorts of a total of 10 to 14 startups throughout a yearlong incubator.
They hope to attract women and people of color, who tend to be underrepresented in business incubators.
"Hopefully, we see more of these entrepreneurs move forward with their ventures," said Lunar Startups' founding manager Melissa Kjolsing Lynch, who used to be the director of the Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide startup competition in the country.
Before signing a three-year lease at Osborn370, American Public Media considered putting the center in other cities, including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. However, the appeal of supporting St. Paul won out.
"Supporting the vitality in our hometown and building this relationship between everyone here in our headquarters and the building just was a great opportunity," Freeland Nelson said.