bcbs downtown Blues Moving 3,000 Workers From Southfield To Detroit

(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will move about 3,000 employees from Southfield to downtown Detroit starting in 2011.

Blues officials said the move, from a set of office buildings along 11 Mile Road just east of Inkster Road to Detroit’s Renaissance Center,
will reduce long-term real estate costs, improve corporate culture and
promote efficiencies.

The agreement finalized by the Blues, General Motors, the city of Detroit, Wayne County and other parties will relocate the workers into
435,245 square feet of space in Towers 500 and 600 of the RenCen.

The Blues said the phased move would save them more than $30 million in long-term real estate costs. It will also reduce the insurer’s
real estate footprint by more than 400,000 square feet. It will increase the Blues’ downtown Detroit work force to about 6,000.

The Blues said they would retain current Detroit offices at 500 and 600 E. Lafayette Boulevard and 441 E. Jefferson Ave., creating a campus extending from the Detroit riverfront to Lafayette Boulevard. The move also makes the Blues one of Detroit’s largest downtown employers.

“Creating a single campus for our southeast Michigan workforce will dramatically improve our corporate culture by bringing our people closer together to accomplish our shared goals,” said Daniel J.
Loepp, Blues president and CEO. “It will also significantly improve
our operational flexibility, which is necessary as we continue to respond to national health care reform.”

The 3,000 additional workers will provide a significant boost to the
downtown Detroit economy and to GM Renaissance Center, filling
formerly vacant space and helping the landmark facility long-term.

The move will produce savings for Blues, given that its two equally sized campuses currently contain vacant space after the company offered voluntary separation packages last year.

“Blue Cross believes that this move will provide a healthier future for our company, our stakeholders, our state and Detroit,” Loepp said. “In the interests of our company’s future, we see this as a giant
opportunity to improve our business, lower our costs and deliver on
our mission.”

The corporate headquarters of Blue Care Network, the Blues’ HMO subsidiary, will remain in Southfield. The Blues also said they would invest to improve their offices in New Hudson. That building is used for meetings and employee education, and serves as the enterprise’s
disaster recovery center. More than 1,200 full-time and contractual
employees work at both locations.

The Blues said they would sell the four-building campus on 11 Mile
Road in Southfield to a private firm. This will make the property
taxable by local governments. The tax value is estimated at $1.8
million to $2.2 million.

Other business leaders praised the move. Said Cythia J. Pasky,
president and CEO of Detroit-based Strategic Staffing Solutions:
“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s decision to consolidate business operations in downtown Detroit is a great example of a win-win business move that will positively impact their operations while supporting our city and state. This move is just the latest example of Blue Cross’ commitment to Michigan and to Detroit. Earlier this year the Blues became our anchor customer when we opened the Detroit Development Center to utilize local talent and resources instead of sending jobs offshore. This type of bold leadership creates a stronger and healthier business environment and better communities — which is what the Blues are all about … This is a great day for Blue Cross and Detroit.”

More at www.bcbsm.com.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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