TRAVERSE CITY — By Kathy Gibbons
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network want to insure the vitality of Michigan's downtowns.
To prove the point, the company relocated its area sales and service center and roughly 30 employees to downtown Traverse City. It's the same strategy the insurer has used in other Michigan cities including Detroit, where 3,000 suburban workers were moved downtown, and in Lansing and Grand Rapids.
"We believe in core city strategies: get your employees downtown to help revitalize the urban core," said Jeff Connolly, Blue Cross vice president and president of West Michigan Operations and Managed Care. "By doing so, you attract better talent and improve the economy."
Blue Cross previously operated from a facility it owned at 1769 S. Garfield, but leased about 10,000-square feet on one-and-a-half floors in the City Centre Plaza building at 202 E. State. The space had been vacant since Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge attorneys moved out in late 2010 to take up residence in the new 101 North Park Building on Front Street, said Bryan Crough, executive director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority.
"We're thrilled to see the building fully occupied, and of course, a large employer like that is great," said Crough. "It's exactly the kind of thing we needed to go in that building."
The insurer's customer service center is located on half of the first floor to make it easily accessible, said Traverse City Regional Sales Manager Frank W. Smith. Blue Cross in Traverse City sees between 400 and 500 walk-in clients a month, most of them senior citizens who have limited use of or access to the Internet.
"There's parking for our customers without having to fill meters or go to the parking deck, behind the building," Smith said. "We've designated seven spots for customers."
Blue Cross also occupies the entire second floor. In addition to the traverse city staff, several other employes will be scattered around the north.
Blue Cross signaled its commitment to maintain a northern Michigan office by signing a long-term lease, Connolly said.
"It's a great opportunity for us to support the local economy and a message that we are here to stay," Connolly said.
Crough said Blue Cross' move downtown reflects a growing trend nationwide.
"People are realizing that having employees who can interact all day long with customers and shop or eat without moving their cars is a big deal," Crough said. "I think the office parks are suffering.
"Fortunately, we didn't have much of that in this region. But the idea of isolating office workers nationwide is really waning."
Neighboring Cherry Capital Cadillac Subaru purchased the Blue Cross property, said General Manager Mike McFarlan.
"We bought it so we could exercise any options we may want for future growth," he said. "We're still up in the air as to what to do with (the building). We want to decide whether to move it, use it or tear it down."
Move signals commitment to downtown, maintaining local presence
TRAVERSE CITY — By Kathy Gibbons
'Film Fest Around World' gathers people for global experience
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In Film Fest coverage: Walk of Fame step closer
Filmmaker Michael Moore's long-time dream for a Hollywood-style "Walk of Fame" in Traverse City is a step closer to becoming reality.Continued ...
Three square off in GT County board race
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Primary election draws near
Lena Bellemore offered a piece of advice to voters about their ballots in next week's primary election.Continued ...
Postponing college to travel the world
Olympia Sanchez was set on attending a four-year college after she completed high school, but the recent Traverse City West Senior High School graduate is putting her plans aside in hopes of traveling the globe.Continued ...
UPDATE: Suspect Stapleton takes stand
An Elberta woman who's accused of trying to kill her autistic daughter sat alone on the witness stand during a hearing about what could be crucial evidence in her upcoming trial on an attempted murder charge.Continued ...
Benzie Bus seeks public input
Benzie Bus officials are inviting riders and non-riders alike to share their feedback on public transportation.Continued ...
Film Festival: A foreign word
Movie producer and distributor Ira Deutchman started the discussion panel titled, "Foreign Thursday: Not in America," with a caveat.Continued ...
Film Festival Schedule: 08/01/2014
What's happening Friday at the Traverse City Film Festival:Continued ...
UPDATE: Elberta mother claims to not remember talking to authorities
An Elberta mother said she doesn't remember talking to authorities after an alleged attempt to kill her autistic daughter.Continued ...
Stapleton testifies in hearing
Kelli Stapleton took the stand today in a court hearing over whether statements she made after an alleged attempt to kill her autistic daughter could be used as evidence in her upcoming trial.Continued ...
Woman arrested after Leelanau crash
A Frankfort woman faces accusations she drunkenly crashed her vehicle into a utility pole and trees that lined a Leelanau County road.Continued ...
Authorities: Video shows man perjured himself
A Traverse City man faces felony perjury charges after authorities said he lied in court about drinking alcohol while on bond for a third-offense drunken driving charge.Continued ...
Candidates hope service can continue in state House
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ten people -- eight Republicans and two Democrats -- are vying to earn their party's nomination for the 104th District state House seat, which covers Grand Traverse County. The Aug. 5 primary will determine party finalists for the NoveContinued ...
School millage renewals on primary ballot
Voters will decide whether to renew the non-homestead operating millage for three area schools when they cast their ballots in August's primary election.Continued ...
Walking with the stars
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Popcorn triggers Opera House evacuation
Hundreds of movie-goers who were settling into their seats at the City Opera House got a last-minute adrenaline rush when fire alarms inside the historic theater erupted into a chorus of chirping and squealing.Continued ...
Ticket-swap opens doors to sold out shows
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Film Festival Outtakes: 08/01/2014
Sid Van Slyke III may be the Traverse City Film Festival's youngest volunteer. Sid, 5, is VIP of Flashlights at the City Opera House, where his dad, Sid Van Slyke, is emcee.Continued ...
Stringing together tunes
Fiddler Diana Ladio says The Moxie Strings have “come a long way” in the short time since the popular Michigan string band released its last album in 2012.Continued ...
- Wednesday, July 30, 2014
UPDATE: Mikko resigns as president of soccer referee assocation
A youth soccer referee who lost a job and a law license because he possessed nude images of teenage girls resigned as president of the Grand Traverse Area Soccer Officials Association, but whether Dennis Mikko will continue to referee soccer games remains unclear.Continued ...
Clearing the Record: 07/31/2014
Because of incorrect information provided to the Record-Eagle, an article on the Aug. 10 Traverse City Antique Postcard & Rare Paper Show should have stated that there will be 10 dealers at 40 tables.Continued ...
Film Festival Schedule: 07/31/2014
What's happening Thursday at the Traverse City Film Festival:Continued ...
Step in line for 'just great movies'
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UPDATE: Prosecutor clears Beach Bums of wrongdoing
A prosecutor found Traverse City Beach Bums jersey auctions didn't run afoul of the law, but instead struck out before they raised money promised to a local veterans group.Continued ...
- 'Film Fest Around World' gathers people for global experience