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ST. PAUL-One way to convince corporate America there is an affordable housing crisis is to get a group of CEOs out to a Habitat for Humanity site and give them a hammer or paintbrush.

That’s what happened earlier this week–30 Twin Cities CEOs, including the heads of Opus Corp., Andersen Windows, and Kraus-Anderson Cos.– rolled up their sleeves and got to work on a twin-home project in the city.

Three years ago, Jon Campbell, president of Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota, co-founded the so-called “CEO Build” with Don Garofalo, past-president of Andersen Corp. in Bayport. The CEO Build effort remains the only one in the country, says Mary Pat Lee, director of development at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. The first year, about a dozen CEOs participated, Campell said.

The group did good work and even–despite the fact they are CEOs–agreed to follow the directions of others, Campbell says. The idea behind CEO Build was both to provide a way for Twin Cities CEOs to get know each other and to introduce them to the Habitat from Humanity and affordable housing issues, he says.

The CEOs worked on garages and painting the interior for the project at 715 Burr St. here, which is sponsored by Wells Fargo and being built by the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

Among the CEOs painting and hammering away were Art Collins, Medtronic; Susan Engle, Department 56; Jon Eisele, Deloitte and Touche; Mary Brainerd, HealthPartners; Bruce Engelsma, Kraus-Anderson Cos.; and Mark Rauenhorst, Opus Corp. In addition to Garofalo, also from Andersen Windows were Jim Humphrey, Andersen’s CEO, and Sarah Andersen, a director.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is one of the top five home-producing affiliates in the US–15,000 volunteers construct 70 new homes each year.

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