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Former school building retooled into business center

The public can get a peek at the changes at The Cannery on July 14 during Superior Porchfest.

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Nick Korhonen stands outside The Cannery, a building in Superior that has been retooled as a business center, on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. His American Family Insurance Agency is one of three tenants in the building at 10 N. 21st St., which Korhonen owns with his wife, Amanda. An additional tenant is being sought for a 600-square-foot office space.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — A new business center has opened in the brick building at 10 N. 21st St., next to Hill Avenue Dental and across the street from the Superior-Douglas County Family YMCA.

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The Cannery, a new business center at 10 N. 21st St. in Superior, was a hub of activity on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. The building is undergoing interior renovations. Exterior work is expected to begin in August.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

The anchor tenant is Nick Korhonen American Family Insurance; Korhonen owns the building with his wife, Amanda, and moved the agency on site June 24 with the help of A-1 Movers.

Korhonen has dubbed the 1935 building The Cannery in honor of its Superior history. It was originally built by the federal government to teach young adults age 18-24 agricultural sciences and soil testing.

“Basically they taught students how to grow food in our clay soil,” Korhonen said.

Because they grew more than they could use, the students canned much of the produce and shared it with the community, earning it the nickname “the cannery.”

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The building was used to manufacture plane parts to support World War II efforts. It later served for years as the hub for technical education in the Superior School District. Linda and Kevin Podvin bought the building in 1998 as the hub for their interior design business, Kate by Courtney and Leigh.

Two additional businesses have moved in. Steve Stern with Green Home Solutions and Ambient Glow Massage, owned by Denver Boser, share the lower level. Korhonen said he connected with both Stern and Boser through the Great Lakes Chapter of Business Network International (BNI). A fourth office space, roughly 600 square feet, is being finished on the upper level and a tenant is being sought.

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Nick Korhonen opens the door to his American Family Insurance agency office at 10 N. 21st St. in Superior June 29, 2022. The agency moved to the site June 24. Korhonen, who owns the building with his wife Amanda, has remodeled it into a business center.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Korhonen purchased the building and the roughly acre and a half lot it sits on in November. He’s been transforming it into a business center with the help of a host of local contractors, including Todd Stack Construction out of Poplar, D & S Electric of Superior and Advantage Air, Plumbing, Heating and Cooling. Trinity Masonry has been tapped to work on the brick exterior in August. Every one of them is an American Family client.

“People who do business with me are people I do business with,” Korhonen said.

The work has included adding divider walls; installing a second bathroom on the upper level; AND electrical work and new paint and flooring throughout the building. A deck behind the building was underway Wednesday, June 29. The spaces have 12-foot ceilings and a flood of natural light through the windows.

“It’s very nice in here, clean, it feels like a fresh start,” said Lauren Massengill, marketing director for the insurance agency.

The move from Belknap Street made sense for the business, which employs four.

“Because when you’re on the bus line and you’re right next to Kwik Trip and all that’s great for visibility, but as a service industry, you know, random walk-ins are a distraction,” Korhonen said.

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Customer Service Representative Stephanie Caldwell said she fell in love with the building’s large windows.

“Since she started working for me she’s been begging me to pay to put a window in her old office,” Korhonen said.

Because their former space was leased, that wasn’t possible. Now, every workspace has a view outside.

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Lauren Massengill, marketing director for Nick Korhonen American Family Insurance, takes a call on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, in the agency's new space at The Cannery.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

The agency’s office manager, Michael Stark, said the building’s transformation is fabulous. Stark, who is the Podvins’ nephew, feels a sense of connection with the site.

“It’s almost like carrying on a legacy, a little bit, knowing that I’ll be working here probably for the rest of my career in the same building where my mom and aunt and uncle built successful businesses,” Stark said.

The Cannery will host Superior Porchfest, a night of free live music, from 6-8 p.m. July 14. The public will have a chance to peek inside the building and see how it's changed.

“We’re excited to share the building with the masses,” Stark said.

MORE FROM MARIA LOCKWOOD:
Kelly Peterson uses curiosity and enthusiasm to connect with business owners.

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Nick Korhonen stands in the foyer outside his American Family Insurance Agency office at 10 N. 21st St. in Superior. It is one of three business that have moved into the building, which Korhonen owns with his wife, Amanda. They dubbed it The Cannery in honor of its history.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Nick Korhonen stands outside his American Family Insurance Agency office in The Cannery, a new business center at 10 N. 21st St., on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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