Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan completes relocation of 3,400 suburban workers to downtown Detroit

Initiative creates unified campus of 6,400 BCBSM workers, lowers company's real estate costs, stimulates economy

June 6, 2012

DETROIT — In less than 24 months, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has completed the relocation of 3,400 employees to downtown Detroit from the suburbs, a process that started in May 2011 and was first announced in July 2010. They join nearly 3,000 more Blue Cross employees that were already based in Detroit on a campus of five buildings extending from the Detroit River to the company’s headquarters complex, three blocks north on Lafayette Boulevard.

The BCBSM campus now includes Towers 500 and 600 of the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit, a BCBSM office building on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, and the two-building BCBSM headquarters complex on Lafayette Boulevard.

With approximately 6,400 employees now working in downtown Detroit, BCBSM becomes one of the largest employers in the city's central business district. Today BCBSM employees and local officials gathered at the company's offices on Lafayette Boulevard to mark the milestone in a lunchtime event with the theme, "Proud To Be Home In The D®."

"There’s a buzz around what we and other companies are doing and the positive momentum it has created," said Daniel J. Loepp, BCBSM president and CEO. "It says a lot that our move to Detroit increased occupancy at the RenCen to an all-time high of 93 percent. It says Detroit’s best days remain ahead, and that companies like ours are invested in creating a strong future for the city."

Participating in today's celebration were representatives from two downtown businesses – Jeff Lambert, principal, Lambert Edwards and Associates and Crystal and David Mott, owners of Good People Popcorn. These companies either recently relocated downtown or have experienced increased business due to the Blues' move.

In addition to helping re-energize Detroit's central business district, the move of workers from offices in Southfield, Mich., offers significant operational benefits for the Blues. It eliminates the redundancies of operating two separate campuses and reduces the company's real estate footprint by 400,000 square feet.

The move creates around $30 million long-term in real estate cost savings for BCBSM and operational flexibility. It reduces the amount of vacant Class A office space in the central business district by 6 percent.

During the past year, the company has played a key role in related activities that make the city better, healthier and safer for everyone, including:

  • Improving and opening up the entrance to Renaissance Center Towers 500 and 600, making it a much more walkable destination
  • Working with downtown partners to get L-E-D street lamps installed for blocks around the Renaissance Center area
  • Promoting a 1.3-mile walking route called BLUpath that connects buildings on the BCBSM campus

The Detroit move is in keeping with what BCBSM did in other core Michigan cities such as downtown Grand Rapids, where the company established its West Michigan headquarters in the vacated Steketee's department store building. In the greater Lansing area, BCBSM relocated employees to downtown Lansing after Accident Fund Holdings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BCBSM, renovated a derelict power plant in the heart of downtown into a bustling new national headquarters. BCBSM initiatives in the downtown cores of Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids have created thousands of construction jobs and millions of dollars in positive economic impact.

Despite the move to downtown Detroit, the Blues continue to be a major employer in Oakland County. Blue Care Network, the HMO subsidiary of BCBSM and the leading HMO in the state, will remain headquartered in Southfield. Combined with the Blues' facility in South Lyon, the Blues will have 1,400 full-time and contracted employees based in Oakland County. The South Lyon facility will continue to play a key role for the company and has been recently updated into a premier conference center and flexible mobile work space.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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