The Minneapolis office of the former Arthur Andersen accounting firm had a great reputation for top-notch work and professionalism.

And the reputation is only getting better--fifteen years after the national accounting firm shut down as a result of federal charges against Andersen’s Houston office and headquarters that resulted from the financial fraud that brought down energy-trader Enron.

About 160 former Minneapolis employees of Arthur Andersen, who still gather for social and charitable events, quietly raised about $1.5 million of the $4.75 million capital campaign to build the new fitness and wellness center for folks with disabilities at the Golden Valley campus of the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, the merged Courage Center and Sister Kenny Institute.

Fittingly, it’s called the Arthur Andersen Minneapolis Alumni Fitness & Wellness Center.

People with disabilities have difficulty finding accessible facilities and exercising at the level expected for the general population, said Jeanne Olson, manager of aquatics and fitness at Courage Kenny.

And the 6,300-square-foot facility, twice the size of the one it replaced, is one of only six nationally that is part of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network that also focuses on exercise for improvement in the lives of people with spinal cord injuries.

Courage Center, Sister Kenny and Andersen relationships date back to the 1960s, said Duane Kullberg, a retired Andersen Minneapolis managing partner.

CFO Steve Polacek of Capella Education, the last Minneapolis managing partner of Andersen, said the former Minneapolis partners and staff  who organized the effort “wondered if we could raise a million bucks.

“And we ended up with over $1.5 million,” Polacek said.

About $500,000 will go to a scholarship fund for people who need financial assistance to use the facility.

Polacek, Kullberg, Jack Jasper, another former Minneapolis managing partner, and Jerry Schwalbach, also a one-time partner, were among the ringleaders of this effort.

Andersen’s demise was sealed after federal prosecutors charged it criminally in the Enron financial fraud, although most Andersen offices had nothing to do with Enron. Clients fled. Several years later, in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Andersen's federal conviction for shredding Enron accounting documents.

Virtually all of the Minneapolis partners joined other firms, businesses or otherwise.

They also kept the Minneapolis-Andersen culture alive. 

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