Last week, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s CEO, Dan Loepp, displayed the kind of bold leadership the city of Detroit needs to get back in the game and help stabilize the local economy. Blue Cross announced the relocation of its 3000 employees from its office park in Southfield to downtown Detroit and the Renaissance Center. This is a great shot in the arm for the city, and a smart strategic business decision by the Blues.
According to Mr. Loepp, the relocation would reduce the company’s long-term real estate debt, streamline operations and improve corporate culture. Moreover, it demonstrates commitment to shoring up the state’s core city and pumping much-needed revenue into the Detroit economy. Frankly, what’s good for Detroit is good for the state of Michigan. Without a strong and viable urban center, our state cannot compete on the national landscape.
No doubt this deal took a lot of planning and negotiating with city and county officials, General Motors and other key partners. This is the kind of collaboration and determined effort that is needed to move our city and state forward. Blue Cross is a Michigan-based company and has been anchored in downtown Detroit for more than 70 years. Their commitment to improving the health of Michigan runs deep, and includes the economic health of the state.
The Blue Cross team is to be commended for its vision. Obviously this move will be difficult for some of the relocated employees, but Loepp says the company will communicate with and engage employees throughout the transition process. Tough times require decisions that may not always be popular but are necessary for the common good.
The Blues are investing in the state’s other significant cities, including Lansing and Grand Rapids, because investment in core cities impacts the entire region. In Detroit, the additional payroll of approximately $181 million for the relocated Blues employees will significantly contribute to the city’s tax base and pump some discretionary income into local restaurants, bars, retail stores, etc.
This economic investment will also have a ripple effect on surrounding neighborhoods, providing small business opportunities and possible employment for local residents. In a city with high unemployment, diminishing revenue streams and a dwindling tax base, this news is big.
Congratulations to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for strong leadership and bold commitment.