Burns to Mairs and Power, Kristine Williams to Port Authority. In downtown St. Paul, two moves in commercial real estate – Twin Cities

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In downtown St. Paul, an investment company’s new venture capital subsidiary has made a notable hire with ties to the world of start-ups and commercial real estate — as has the St. Paul Port Authority.

Scott Burns, the founder of successful downtown St. Paul-based online ventures GovDelivery and Structural, now wears a new hat, one that should be familiar to fans of the reality television show “Shark Tank.”

Burns, a ubiquitous presence in metro-wide civic circles — including the governing board of the Star Tribune, and previously the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation — has been named general partner at Mairs & Power Venture Capital, a new subsidiary of the century-old investment company.

Based within the First National Bank Building on Seventh Street, the long-term investment company dates back to 1931 and considers itself something of a burgeoning king-maker when it comes to backing young businesses and transforming them into powerhouses, beginning with $1 million initial investments. Mairs & Power partners with “high potential venture-stage companies” in the Upper Midwest — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and the Dakotas, according to its promotional materials. Its venture capital subsidiary just launched in early 2022.

“Our network roots are deep in this region, where we believe we can assemble the best combination of technology, management, workforce, research, and professional services to build great businesses,” reads the company website. “Our interest is in a variety of industries, notably including companies in the Software, Business Services, Healthcare, FinTech, EdTech, and other high growth sectors.”

Investor in Osborn370

Burns is an investor in the Osborn370 building on Wabasha Street — which has drawn a bit of a who’s who of young companies, many of them owned by techies, planners and other entrepreneurs of color.

Burns is no stranger to the field of start-ups or the venture capital experience. His first major enterprise — GovDelivery, one of the first companies to move government documents and services into the digital “cloud” — was sold in 2016 to an investment group led by Vista Equity Partners for $153 million. Structural, an employee connectivity platform, was sold to Augeo, a St. Paul-based employee engagement and online- and event-based marketing company, in October 2022.

Burns joins Mairs & Power Venture Capital general partner John Bergstrom, as well as Austin Uline, who was hired as principal in 2022. Bergstrom first met Burns more than 20 years ago when Bergstrom became an investor and advisor with GovDelivery. They’ve collaborated over the years since on other projects.

St. Paul Port Authority hires Kristine Williams

The St. Paul Port Authority, the city’s real estate investment arm, has made a new hire of its own. Kristine Williams, recently of IAG Commercial Real Estate and previously a North American real estate manager with Canadian Pacific Rail in Canada, is the Port Authority’s new director of real estate.

Like Burns, she’ll focus on “developing partnerships that will lead to identifying future opportunities” for commercial growth, according to the agency. She holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s of business administration from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Williams will work closely with Kathryn Sarnecki, the chief development officer for the Port Authority, on finding new opportunities to redevelop old commercial sites — including brownfields — and invite in new business ventures, with the goal of growing the city’s tax base.

BOMA breakfast on skyway safety

On the topic of downtown real estate challenges and opportunities, the Greater St. Paul Building Owners and Managers Association is hosting a breakfast seminar next month on skyway security.

The seminar — “Mapping the Route to a Consistently Clean and Safe Skyway System” — will be hosted from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sept. 11 at Wells Fargo Place. The cost is $40 for members, $50 for non-members.

Reads the announcement: “Sections of the skyway are regularly dirty and poorly maintained. Unwanted behaviors range from nuisance to illegal. These issues are further impacted by the complicated governance structure of public easement and private ownership, creating a patchwork approach to private security, maintenance and cleaning. Join us to hear from city representatives about a coordinated and holistic approach to ensure consistent implementation of services throughout the skyway.”

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