The nonprofit Washburn Center for Children this week begins construction of a $24.5 million mental health facility and headquarters at Glenwood Av. and Dupont Av. N. on an abandoned industrial site in the Harrison neighborhood of north Minneapolis.

The 130-year-old agency is selling its cramped building in south Minneapolis, listed at $1.7 million, in favor of more than doubling its size to 55,000 square feet on a 2.5-acre plot that will include trees and flowers and fits the development plan for the neighborhood.

In the past decade, the Washburn Center has nearly doubled its caseload, seeing nearly 10,000 troubled kids and other family members annually. It employs about 120 at 18 schools in Minneapolis and the suburbs and satellite facilities in Brooklyn Park and ­Minnetonka. Nearly 100 college and graduate students and physician interns also serve annually at Washburn, in addition to volunteers.

Executive Director Steve Lepinski, on the job for 26 years, said the three-year-old capital campaign is about 90 percent complete. The lead donations include nearly $5 million from the family foundation of the late businessman Peter J. King; the General Mills Foundation; the Pohlad Family Foundation; the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, and Whitebox CEO Andy Redleaf and his wife, Lynne, an attorney and Washburn Center board member. The center also got a $5 million allocation from a state bonding bill.

This is a good investment. Troubled kids who aren’t succeeding early on usually have trouble in school and can cost society far more through delinquency, incarceration, social services, than kids who graduate from high school and proceed to college or other training and jobs. Early intervention is most economical and effective. Washburn does important work.

“We’re grateful for our partners who also believe that children’s mental health is as important as their physical health.,” Lepinski said. “This is a good location for us, and, we think, the community.”

Retired Leuthold rides again

Money manager Steve Leuthold, retired from Leuthold Weeden but still a minority shareholder, has done what comes naturally to him. At 75, he’s hired a few young analysts and an administrator and opened a long-view hedge fund that has about $80 million in assets, including funds that he manages for his family foundation.

“It got to the point at Leuthold Weeden where there were too many people and too much structure,” he said last week. “I wanted to run things the way I want to run them, without committees. I love this business and didn’t want to get out. I’m a contrarian by nature, and we’ll be looking for concepts that are not favorable and with two- to three-year holding periods.’’

Leuthold Strategies is based in the “elephants’ graveyard” on the 49th floor of the IDS Center, a suite for retired executives. He’s also putting up a website.

Leuthold is betting a quarter of the portfolio on natural gas and nuclear power, including in coal-polluted China and India; investing in gold, and shorting U.S. Treasuries against an eventual rise in interest rates. He’s lightened up on airlines, where he made a lot of money during the recovery, and he’s researching water desalination and water recycling technologies.

“We’re not marketing yet,” said Leuthold, who will charge 0.75 percent annually and 12.5 percent of profit, about half what is typically charged by hedge funds of high-roller investors and institutions.

Unitedhealth report: Wellness plans pay

Encouraging workers to jump through hoops in a wellness program could save companies, consumers and the broader health care system real money, according to a report from UnitedHealth Group. The Minnetonka-based health insurer said it shaved more than $107 million in health costs over three years when it tinkered with a wellness plan for its 133,000 employees and their families.

Writing in the journal “Health Affairs,” UnitedHealth executives argued that insurers must be more involved in efforts to get patients to take steps to become healthier. That’s because insurance carriers have “unique capabilities” to target the message by mining claims data, lab reports, pharmacy information and elements of the electronic health record, according to the report.

Medicare and Medicaid haven’t paid enough attention to potential cost savings by using “patient engagement strategies,” and UnitedHealth called for more serious collaboration with insurers in the future.

– and used behavioral economics tactics to “deploy and frame incentives” to change behavior. In 2010, the program’s first year, 76 percent of employees who signed up earned points, and 27 percent earned the highest mark. The following year 82 percent earned points and 36 hit the top threshold.



AgePower, a collaboration between nonprofit senior services company Ecumen and Mojo Minnesota will hold a public launch at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management on Tuesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. AgePower is a fledgling partnership designed to locate, reward and help launch or adapt economical technology and innovations that will help seniors stay healthy and independent using “real-life test environments,” said Kathryn Roberts, CEO of Ecumen. “From better coordinating health care services, to enhancing social connections, to making life easier, we believe … people and technology can open the door to new possibilities that improve lives and make better use of resources.” Register at: More information at.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says new business formations in Minnesota are on track to hit 62,000 this year. Ninety-five percent are sole proprietorships, partnerships or family-owned operations that will employ 10 or fewer people.