Detroit: A City for Believers

Downtown DetroitI believe in the greatness of cities. They are the heart of commerce, attracting business, nurturing investment, creating jobs. And they are the soul of our culture, where intellect and the arts originate. In Michigan and across the country, cities are at the very core of our existence. That is why energy spent building and strengthening our cities is energy well spent.

As I reflect upon being elected Executive Committee Chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) , so many possibilities and mission-critical tasks come to mind. There is so much to do to continue the positive momentum, so much we must do as we work to restore the luster to our city.

Belief keeps us here, but belief backed by action is what really moves us forward. I learned that from Tony Earley of DTE Energy, my predecessor, who has been a constant positive presence in Detroit and with the DDP for many years. Growing up on Detroit’s east side, in the triangle created by Kelly Road, Hayes and Houston-Whittier streets, I believed in this place. And I believe in Michigan. That belief remains intact, even as times have changed. In Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, young residents and future residents want and deserve a place they can call home – a place they can live and thrive in, a place they can identify with and stand up for. A place they can believe in.

The DDP will make that happen in Detroit. I promise that, in the full comfort of knowing that positive energy and substantive results are already moving Detroit in that direction. It isn’t just talk. More than ever, there is action. People are taking notice. There is a buzz in the air today and excitement about what Detroit can become.

Perspective and Confidence

As president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, I can emphatically state that our company has a real stake in the success of Michigan’s core cities. When national media resorted to the tired old bit of taking a swipe at Detroit when census results came out this winter, I wrote a blog post to provide some perspective about what is really happening hereThere are ongoing struggles and concerns here, and a real uphill climb to get where the city can be, but there is also real momentum and a confident resolve.

Of the many responses to that blog post, one sticks with me:

“As a Detroiter, I believe in this great city. After reading your article, my enthusiasm has grown even more. Through your words and actions, please continue to believe in our city.”

Those words meant a lot to me. Because I do believe in our city, I believe in its people and I believe with great confidence that together we can accomplish many things. The comment demonstrates that belief is infectious and it leads to action.

Regional Prosperity Relies on Strong Urban Centers

The Blues are taking actions to make Detroit stronger, by moving 3,000 employees to a unified downtown Detroit campus. It is a move that will bring our total number of Detroit-based employees to 6,000. It will contribute more than $3 million annually to the city tax rolls, create hundreds of new jobs and breathe life into countless restaurants, clothiers, boutiques and other businesses downtown. It is a move that brings $180 million in BCBSM annual payroll into the city.

This is all part of an ongoing corporate commitment that will ultimately bring 97% of our BCBSM and Accident Fund Holdings workforce into the epicenter of Michigan’s 3 largest cities – Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids. Our actions reflect our belief in a bright future for Michigan and Detroit, and our deep conviction that building up Michigan’s cities will help the entire state prosper.

My vision for Detroit fuels my commitment to the DDP. I see Detroit’s return to prosperity and the transformation of our city into a place that serves as a magnet to businesses from across the country and around the world, a place that beckons talented professionals looking for the right place to launch and sustain their careers. They will come to Detroit because they will see the city as we see it – as a great place to work and live.

A Shared Vision

Companies like Quicken Loans, General Motors, Compuware, DTE and Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3) have long been leaders when it comes to investing in Detroit. It is no coincidence those companies are strongly represented with the DDP along with other great companies and institutions like the Penske Corporation, Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Wayne State University and Olympia Development.

All that we do together through the DDP is helping to build the critical mass necessary to make Detroit a destination. And with everything we do, we continue to build and strengthen partnerships between companies committed to Detroit and Michigan. The Blues and many of the other organizations mentioned above are not just aligned on ideology. We are joined by strong bonds as customers and providers of service to each other. That same critical mass of partnership is occurring in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

In Detroit, all of us in the DDP feel energized by the belief and critical mass that we see building exponentially. And we all believe there are many more great things we can do together downtown that will greatly benefit the entire city, as well as the region.

Efforts by all of these organizations, along with the Blues, have created a steady drumbeat of optimism and excitement for the future of Detroit. This summer, a group of five DDP member companies including BCBSM joined to create the “Live Downtown” program, which offers incentives to those who either reside in Detroit or wish to make Detroit their home.

I can tell you that the response has been amazingly strong, beyond what we imagined. People want to play a positive part inDetroit’s comeback story.

The DDP exists for this very purpose. It has been my honor and privilege to interact with the tremendous leaders who drive the DDP and who share a vision of a vital and vibrant Detroit. For six years as a director and executive committee member, I have witnessed firsthand how the DDP works to support, strengthen and improve the city. I have seen what an organization can do through collaboration, unity and strength under the guidance of visionary leaders like DDP Board Chair Cindy Pasky of S3 and President and CEO Dave Blaszkiewicz.

In my new role as Executive Committee Chairman, we will continue to work together toward creating a strong Detroit that not only draws new investors to our city, but gives our children a reason to stay and build their careers right here at home.

We believe, and we are committed to substantive actions that will propel Detroit to a new era of prosperity. In the months and years ahead, we will make Detroit a city anyone can be proud of, and believe in.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and chair of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association national board, representing 39 Blue plans providing coverage to nearly 100 million Americans. 

Photo Credit: Urban Adventures

2 Pairs of Tickets Up For Grabs For Saturday’s Michigan-San Diego State Game

Hey football fans: Want a chance to see Michigan square off against head coach Brady Hoke’s former team in the Big House? We’re holding a trivia contest on Facebook today to give away two pairs of tickets to Saturday’s game between the Wolverines and the San Diego State Aztecs.

To see the trivia question, head over to our Facebook page (if you haven’t already, you’ll need to “like” us in order to enter your answer). We’ll give away the tickets to the first two people who submit the correct answer.

Kickoff Saturday is at noon.

Contest Terms and Conditions

No purchase necessary to enter to win. This giveaway is governed exclusively by the laws of Michigan. You are not authorized to participate within the giveaway if you are not located within Michigan.

  1. Eligibility. Participation is only open to all legal residents of Michigan, who are 18 years of age or older on the date of entry. Employees of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (“Sponsor”) and respective subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, advertising and promotion agencies and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings, spouses) or members of the same household (whether related or not) are not eligible to enter. Participants must have a valid state-issued photo identification to be able to pick up their tickets.
  2. How to Enter. Specific information regarding how to enter the ticket giveaways will be publicized on the Sponsor’s social media platforms.
  3. Prize. The prize will be specified within the social media platform announcing the opportunity to enter. The prize will be tickets for entrance to various events located in Michigan. The ticket face value for each event will be less than $100.
  4. Drawings. Winners will be selected from all entrants received and be notified on the platform where the ticket giveaway was offered. Winners will be selected by correctly answering a trivia question or engaging on a social media platform through commenting, tweeting or posting in reply to a specific Facebook post, A Healthier Michigan blog post or a specific tweet. Detailed information regarding how to enter for each ticket giveaway will be posted on the platform with a message explaining the specific time the contest will run and what platform it will be on. Then at the time specified, the specific details will be given about how to enter. Winners have forty eight (48) hours upon being notified by Sponsor to declare acceptance of the prize. If the winner cannot be contacted within this time period the prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner will be selected. The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entrants received. By entering the giveaway the entrants agree to be bound by these rules and the decisions of Sponsor. The Sponsor’s decisions on winners will be final and binding on all matters relating to the ticket giveaway.  A list of all winners will be made available at the end of the contest on the Sponsor’s social media platform.
  5. Conditions. Winners must be able to provide valid state-issued photo identification on the date of the performance to claim tickets from will-call. Participation in this giveaway and acceptance of prize constitutes winner’s permission for Sponsor to use, exploit, adapt, modify, reproduce, distribute and publically display their name, address (city and state), likeness, photograph, picture, portrait, voice, biographical information and/or any statements made by the winner and the winner’s guest regarding the giveaway or Sponsor without notice or additional compensation, except where prohibited by law. By participating, all participants, including all eligible entrants, winners and winners’ guest(s) agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor, its respective advertising and promotion agencies and their respective parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers directors and shareholders, from any and all claims and liability, for loss, harm, damage, injury, cost or expense whatsoever including without limitation, property damage, personal injury and/or death which may occur in any way in connection with, preparation for, travel to, or participation in giveaway, or possession, acceptance and/or use or misuse of prize or participation in any giveaway or related giveaway activity and for any claims based on publicity rights, defamation or invasion of privacy and merchandise delivery. Sponsor is not responsible if performance of specific ticketed event cannot take place for any reason or if any prize cannot be awarded including, but not limited to due to travel complications or cancellations, delays or interruptions due to acts of God, acts of war, natural disasters or weather. Sponsor maintains the right to offer a substitute prize of equal value. Entrants who do not comply with these rules or conditions or who attempt to interfere with this giveaway in any way shall be disqualified from any of the ticket giveaways that occur during the previously mentioned time period.

Photo by cseeman.

New ‘We Believe’ Billboard in Detroit Has a Double Meaning

Our new billboard at the foot of I-375 and East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit carries a bold, powerful and simple message:

Believe.

As in, believe in the Tigers, the team behind the iconic old English D that is racing toward the postseason, emphatic winners of 10 straight games as of this writing. But it’s more than that.

Don’t be surprised if Detroit fans cheer extra hard if the team, as expected, clinches the Central Division and earns a trip to the postseason, bringing a taste of October baseball back to town. Like us, they’ll be cheering for a storied baseball team — but they’ll also be cheering on an entire city.

Detroit has been through some challenging times, but that hardly needs mentioning. What’s important now is that positive momentum is definitely afoot, with new businesses opening, a progress-minded city government, new residents downtown and an infusion of energy and goodwill.

So with every home run that Tigers batters belt over the outfield fence, with every commanding Justin Verlander performance, yeah, we believe.

Do you?

New Downtown Lansing Offices: Strengthening our Commitment to Michigan’s Core Cities

Starting next week, downtown Lansing will be the home to an additional 300 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees. The ribbon was cut this morning by our CEO Dan Loepp with an enthusiastic crowd of supporters and members of the media. Some members of our team shared pictures to Twitter in real time this morning. Here are a few of those pictures:

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Our Lansing-based workforce is moving to downtown offices from a former suburban location.

The news media was also quick to pick up the story about our new Lansing location. Here is a sample of some of the headlines that posted today:

You can also listen to the recording of Dan Loepp’s interview with Mike Conley this morning on Lansing’s AM 1320 WILS.

“Man Up!” to End the Health Disparities in the African-American Community

Serious health disparities continue to threaten the health of the African-American men throughout our community and the United States. This is why we are once again co-sponsoring the 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit’s Man Up! for Better Health event this Friday and Saturday, September 9 and 10.

How great is the need for this type of event? Tremendous, especially when you consider these sad facts:  Read more of this post

What’s Cool Now? Making BCBSM a Great Place to Work

We’re thrilled to be named among the coolest places to work by Crain’s Detroit Business.  Our employees are our greatest asset, and we’re proud to be recognized, along with some of the most innovative companies across southeast Michigan.

Read the full article on the Crain’s Detroit Business website: Attract, retain, repeat: What’s cool in 2011: Hiring, helping workers build careers