DETROIT (WWJ) – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has begun consolidating its work force in downtown Detroit.

WWJ Newsradio 950’s Florence Walton reports that the first of 3,000 BCBS employees began the workweek in news offices in the General Motors Renaissance Center.

BCBS CEO Daniel Loepp told reporters he is committed to the city of Detroit.

“This is a sweeping and continuous initiative that we call ‘Blue Unite.’ It will conclude, next year, when Blue Cross unites our entire Southeast Michigan workforce, 6,000 people strong, in five buildings on this campus — extending from the Detroit riverfront, to our headquarters building behind me on Lafayette Boulevard,”  Loepp said.

Loepp said most of his employees are excited about the move.

“It’s a six-mile round trip difference… Interestingly enough, not everybody that works and that is coming downtown lives in the suburbs.  A decent amount of the employee base lives in the city, so it’s a mix,” he said.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Monday, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing applauded Loepp for his courage.

“What you have started is the beginning of a comeback for the city of Detroit. One of the things that I’ve been criticized for is that I’m too close to business.  And I will tell you what —  I will take the criticism all day if this is the outcome,” Bing said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield plans to sell its Southfield property once the employee relocation is complete.

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