A grateful Minnesota entrepreneur, Rod Burwell, credits the emergency care personnel at Abbott Northwestern Hospital with saving his life this year.

"I had a blood infection and went to the emergency room in January 2014 and I didn't get out of Abbott until April," Burwell recalled last week. "I was near death several times. I guess I actually died … 'coded' … at one point. It didn't bother me because I didn't know what was going on, but it wasn't great for my family.

"I survived several operations with a survival rate of only 5 or 10 percent. I was very weak. But I'm back now. I'm getting stronger."

Rod and Barbara Burwell, also longtime community philanthropists, recently pledged $3 million to the $15 million Critical Care Campaign of the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation to renovate and expand Abbott Northwestern's emergency department and neurological intensive care unit. The gift is the largest of the campaign and one of the largest from an individual in Abbott's history.

Rod Burwell is chairman of 45-year-old Burwell Enterprises, an eclectic mix of businesses. Peter Burwell, one of his three sons, is president of the business.

The emergency department at Abbott Northwestern sees 50,000 patients a year, three-quarters of whom are paying something out of pocket or covered by Medicaid or Medicare, which don't cover the full cost. The overhaul also will allow Abbott to see 60,000-plus patients annually and employ advanced technologies to treat patients with stroke, brain and spine conditions.

"I am grateful," said Rod Burwell, who was resuscitated at Abbott several times. "You don't give away $3 million for the fun of it. I want to do some good with it. And I think the doctors and nurses and patients will benefit from this. We'll still do the 'annual this and that,' but this is kind of a special deal. I'm not going to be broke when I die."

A third of the Burwell donation is a matching grant to encourage new donations to the hospital in any amount. The 18-month renovation project will begin in June 2015.

"I strongly believe that to whom much is given, much is expected, and we hope that this donation sets an example for our sons and others," said Barbara Burwell. "Gifts of time and treasure, large and small, make such a difference in our communities."

The foundation is about halfway to the $15 million goal.

IT-Ready training program hits 100 graduates since 2012

This month's announcement that the Nerdery is joining with other local businesses and associations to launch a private school to train 250 job-ready software developers annually eclipsed the news that IT-Ready also this month graduated another class of retooling Twin Cities adults who have earned certificates in information technology thanks to the Creating IT Futures Foundation, a nonprofit initiative of CompTIA, the computer industry trade group. That makes 100 graduates since the first class in 2012.

Shaleen Meyers, 33, who has worked as a day-care provider and pizza delivery driver, starts in January in IT support for Our Family Wizard of northeast Minneapolis.

"I'm grateful for this opportunity," said Meyers, who begins as a $14-an-hour intern, a position that will convert to a salaried job in a few months. "I was making $12 an hour as a child-care worker. This job has benefits. That's security. The certification shows what I've accomplished. I wouldn't have gotten this job without the IT-Ready program. This will help me to support myself."

The IT-Ready Foundation leans toward IT education for working-class women and minorities, underrepresented in the field, who have graduated high school or passed a general equivalency degree.

"Our goal is to give people who are willing to work hard but who lack opportunity the right training, resources and opportunities for an on-the-job experience so they can find meaningful work in the IT industry at a family-sustaining wage," said Charles Eaton, CEO of Creating IT Futures Foundation.

More than three-quarters of the graduates of the tuition-free program move into paid jobs immediately.

IT-Ready students get hands-on experience through 250 hours of classroom training and paid internships. As part of the program, they take apart and build desktop computers and other hardware, learning about motherboards, printers and peripherals. They also receive "soft" skills training, such as tips on professional communication and presentation, teamwork and collaboration. After training, the apprentices sit for the CompTIA certification exam, which covers desktop and help-desk technical support duties and skills.

The employer partners include the information technology department of the city of Minneapolis, Atomic Data, HealthPartners, McCormick Computers, Medica, Medtronic and Pearson. The next eight-week IT-Ready class for as many as 25 students will be held downtown starting Feb. 9. More information: www.ITReady.com.

Paydays of More Not-for-Profit CEOs

In last Sunday's Star Tribune business section, we profiled trends in the Minnesota nonprofit sector, including the compensation of CEOs in health care, private education and social services.

Several of the top-paid brass at the state's largest not-for-profit business associations didn't make that list.

Here are some of the numbers from the most recent filings with the Minnesota attorney general's office or GuideStar.

Michael Langley, CEO of Greater MSP, the Twin Cities area regional economic development partnership: $456,368; Matt Kramer, CEO of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce: $227,128; Todd Klingel, CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce: $238,132; Charlie Weaver, CEO of the Minnesota Business Partnership: $594,878; Dale Wahlstrom, past CEO of Minnesota Lifescience Alley: $279,651.

Resurrected Retail

Mayor Betsy Hodges and the Minneapolis City Council have declared Minnehaha Avenue, from Lake Street to Minnehaha Falls, as the "Minnehaha Mile."

This strip contains nine antique, vintage and secondhand shops, peddling used records, clothing and toys. The city elders claim this is the largest such commercial corridor in the state of Minnesota. The ceremony was held at Junket: Tossed & Found, which recently expanded its retail footprint at 4049 Minnehaha Av. S.

The owner is Julie Kearns, a corporate refugee and neighborhood resident who started Junket about five years ago online and in her home, before moving into an old commercial building.

Giving is Good

Hats off to the thousands of Twin Cities employers and employees who took time during the holiday season to benefit others. One example: employees from Allianz Life Insurance of North America formed a human chain to load 500-plus boxes of food and clothing they donated onto waiting trucks destined for local nonprofits. The Allianz employees donated hundreds of books, 100 new bikes, 3,000 new toys, 24,000 pounds of food, and 24,000 pounds of gently used clothing, and $114,000 in cash. Five area nonprofits benefited from the Allianz Life giving campaign.

Staff writer Patrick Kennedy contributed to this report.