Lansing headquarters of Accident Fund takes starring role in ‘Under the Radar Michigan’

A screen capture from the “Under the Radar Michigan” episode.

Accident Fund Holdings, a workers compensation company and wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, has added new vitality to downtown Lansing since opening its headquarters in a former abandoned power plant in 2011. The company’s efforts to renovate the massive building and breathe life into the city of Lansing are showcased in a recent episode of “Under the Radar Michigan.”

In the episode, BCBSM President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp explains the combined effort it took to make the project come together. “When we first started looking at an older power plant and turning it into business use, everybody thought we were crazy,” said Loepp. “[The building] has had a phenomenally positive impact on the city and the region.”

Now in its second season, the 30-minute “Under the Radar Michigan” episodes air on public television stations across the state and feature weekly episodes to connect people to their home state.

“We are honored to have Accident Fund national headquarters featured in an Under the Radar Michigan episode,” said Liz Haar, president and CEO of Accident Fund Holdings. “The show truly exemplified the importance of economic development in Michigan’s core cities and Accident Fund is proud to be a big part of that effort in downtown Lansing.”

Find out when the full episode airs here, or watch it on the Under the Radar Michigan website.

Blues on the Radio: the Live Downtown Games, UV safety and more in July

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is pleased to collaborate with its four Live Downtown partners (Compuware, Quicken Loans, Strategic Staffing Solutions and DTE Energy) to bring the first Live Downtown Games to life in downtown Detroit. The daily events, which celebrate the July 25, 2012 one-year anniversary of the Live Downtown program, will be a central point of discussion when Blues personalities take to the local airwaves in July.

The Healthier Michigan Radio Show

This month the spotlight is on some of the Blues’ partnerships and efforts downtown with Detroit’s Live Downtown Games and the Live Downtown initiative. Host Ann Thomas, of WJR-AM, convenes a full house of guests who all share a passion for Detroit:

  • Grace Derocha, registered dietitian and health coach, BCBSM
  • Tom Anderson, director of Wellness and Work Life, Compuware
  • Stephanie Stevenson, vice president of benefits, Quicken Loans
  • Carl Bentley, senior vice president, Strategic Staffing Solutions
  • Susan Bailey, manager of Wellness & Health Promotion, DTE Energy

The hour-long show will be available online or as a podcast after July 16, or be sure to tune in to it on the air on the following stations:

  • WJR in Detroit — 7-8 p.m. Monday, July 16
  • WJIM-AM in Lansing — 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, July 10
  • WTCM-FM in Traverse City — 9-10 p.m. Monday, July 9
  • WOOD-AM in Grand Rapids — 9-10 p.m. Sunday, July 8
  • WATZ-AM in Alpena — 11 a.m.-noon Wednesday, July 25

Tricia Keith

Live Downtown Games featured on ‘Destination 313’

Tricia Keith, the Blues’ vice president, Corporate Secretary and Services, will be a guest on Quicken Loans’ “Desination 313” radio show on WJR with hosts Paul W. Smith and Stephen Luigi Piazza, Quicken’s vice president. Daily events will take place July 23-27, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the central business district of downtown Detroit, with medals awarded daily and a Live Downtown Games champion crowned at the end of the week. (We’ll be talking more about the Games here in future blog posts.)

Listen for Keith’s appearance when the show airs at 7 p.m. Friday, July 20, or visit the Destination 313 website for a podcast version after the show airs.

On the Lansing, Saginaw airwaves

Kevin Klobucar

Joining the Blues on the Radio this month is guest Kevin Klobucar, president and CEO of Blue Care Network. Kevin chats with Johnny Burke of WHNN-FM in Saginaw and Stephanie McCoy of WITL-FM in Lansing about Healthy Blue Xtras, BCN’s new HMO Health Savings Account plan, and how the Blues work with the best hospitals and doctors in Michigan to enhance the quality of health care, reduce costs and improve health outcomes.

Tigers Radio

Andrew Hetzel, BCBSM’s vice president of Corporate Communications, joins play-by-play caller Dan Dickerson each Sunday throughout the month on the Detroit Tigers Radio Network. This month Hetzel discusses UV safety, the BCN HMO HSA plan, Keep Fit, a new individual plan from BCBSM, and more.

Photo by Girl.in.the.D

Relocating employees downtown reflects huge momentum swing for Detroit, RenCen (with slideshow)

The completion this week of our BLUnite project, which unifies 6,400 employees in our expanded downtown Detroit campus, was about many things: It puts an exclamation point on Blue Cross’ commitment to this city for the long term, and we realize a host of new real estate cost savings, operational efficiencies and other improvements. And after all the hard work by employees and the crews who made it happen, it’s a great reason to celebrate.

But as Tom Walsh points out in a Wednesday column in the Detroit Free Press, there is an element to this story that’s all too easily overlooked.

As he put it, our move of 3,400 employees constitutes “a remarkable change of fortune for the Renaissance Center and its chief occupant, General Motors, both engulfed in a sea of question marks just two short years ago.”

Thousands of Blues employees gathered for a lunchtime celebration Wednesday, enjoying the sounds of the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences choir, with many forming dance trains to the booming music from a DJ. Mayor Dave Bing and I spoke about how our project, along with similar moves from other companies, underlined the positive momentum under way in the city and helped form a “strong mass” of businesses in the city’s core.

This new, positive momentum is a stunning reversal from where we were just a few short years ago.

In 2009, when the auto industry was staggered by a weak economy, the very survival of our city, region and the American auto industry was in question. The auto industry affects all Michiganders either directly or indirectly, so everyone in Michigan – southeast Michigan in particular – would be affected by the outcome.

By mid-2010, as Tom Walsh writes in his column, GM decided against relocating its corporate headquarters out of the Renaissance Center. But it still had an issue with empty real estate in Towers 500 and 600.

It’s often said that timing is everything. I looked out my office window toward the Detroit River back then, saw those towers, and a question came to my mind: “What if…?”

Today marks nearly two years after we announced our plan to bring employees from the suburbs to the Renaissance Center. Today, the RenCen’s  occupancy rate is 93 percent, highest in its history. The RenCen, which has long served as an icon, representing Detroit to the nation, is literally full of life. And the auto industry is back on track, too.

The same can be said for downtown Detroit. Blue Cross is proud to join a growing list of companies that are putting stakes in the ground and betting on the city’s future.

We’re proud to be home in the D. And I’m proud to say, Detroit is open for business.

Take a look at photos from our BLUnite celebration below.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and chief executive of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Blues CEO Daniel J. Loepp on Detroit: ‘Best I’ve seen in probably 30 years’

Blues President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp is attending the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference this week on Mackinac Island, where he stopped in for an interview with MiVote.org and journalist Christy McDonald.

In the video interview, Loepp discusses revitalization and business investment in the city of Detroit, the upcoming completion of BCBSM’s move of 3,000 suburban employees into the city, the street lighting initiative undertaken with the city and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, and the impact of national health care reform.

Take a look here.

Jefferson Building Improvements Strengthen BCBSM’s Link With History (With Photo Slideshow)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The March 1954 edition of the Blues’ employee newsletter devoted three pages to the company’s new Jefferson Building offices in Detroit, where some 700 employees were about to move into spacious, amenity-filled modern offices.

“As the time draws near for moving into our new building practically everyone is seeking answers to his or her own special problems,” the article began. “Highlights is going to tell you all about it — everything from elevators to electric lights and from banks to barber shops. You’ll like working in our new home.”

Nearly 58 years later, it gives me great honor to rededicate a building that serves as a living link to the Blues’ rich history of serving the people of the state of Michigan.

We recently took the wraps off our newly improved Jefferson Building. Construction crews have renovated the first floor and entrance of the building at Jefferson and Beaubien Street, adding a glass, storefront façade, modern high-tech collaboration spaces for employees and treadmill Walkstations where employees can exercise while they work.

The changes are intended to open the building up to the street and remake the “old lady,” as Highlights called it then, into a central tech hub of collaboration for our newly expanded downtown Detroit campus, which now stretches from the Renaissance Center Towers 500 and 600 to Lafayette Boulevard four blocks north.

Read more of this post

Blues on the Radio: Month-Long Spotlight on Revitalizing Michigan Cities in May

In May, The Healthier Michigan Radio Show that airs on radio stations throughout the state will focus on all of the exciting developments happening in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids that are helping to revitalize the state. Program host Ann Thomas will speak with:

  • Dan Loepp, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about the investments made by the Blues to help boost Detroit’s economy
  • Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corporation, about the many ways that metro Detroit and Michigan will benefit from the return of the Detroit Grand Prix
  • Tricia Keith, vice president, corporate secretary and services of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about why rebuildingDetroit is such an important mission for the Blues and its employees
  • Jeff Connolly, president for West Michigan Operations and Managed Care at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, about how the Blues support West Michigan through various local partnerships and opportunities

The hour-long show is available online or as a podcast and is scheduled to air at the following times on the following stations:

  • WJR-AM in Detroit – 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 1
  • WJIM-AM in Lansing – 7-8 p.m. May 1
  • WOOD-AM in Grand Rapids – 9-10 p.m. Sunday, May 6
  • WTCM-FM in Traverse City – 9-10 p.m. Monday, May 14
  • WATZ-AM in Alpena – 11-11:45 a.m. Wednesday, May 23

WOOD Radio

If you live on Michigan’s west side, listen for Connolly on his regular Tuesday segment with WOOD host Steve Kelly. Connolly will discuss topics including the Blues’ Body & Soul walking challenge. This initiative brings African-American churches together in the area to compete for wellness grants. Other topics include the Collaborative Quality Initiatives (CQI) under way with Michigan hospitals to improve health care quality while lowering costs, and the role of free clinics for the uninsured.

Tigers Radio

Finally, Andrew Hetzel, BCBSM’s vice president of Corporate Communications, joins Dan Dickerson each Sunday throughout the month on the Detroit Tigers Radio Network. This month Hetzel will discuss National Nurses Week, Employee Health & Fitness Month, the Blues’ partnership with Michigan doctors and hospitals to lower health care costs and improve quality, and the Healthy Blue Xtras member program that provides special discounts to Michigan Blue Cross members at retailers throughout the state.

Photo by MeijerGardens

BluesWeek: Michigan Supreme Court Order Allows Continued Growth For Accident Fund

The Accident Fund headquarters in Lansing.

On April 6, the Michigan Supreme Court ended an appeal filed by former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox in a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The Supreme Court’s order affirms decisions of the Circuit Court and Court of Appeals that Accident Fund Holdings — a for-profit, workers compensation company and wholly-owned subsidiary of BCBSM — may own and operate its own subsidiary insurance companies, including those based outside the state of Michigan.

The Value of Accident Fund

This outcome is important to BCBSM. Blues’ ownership of Accident Fund returns significant long-term value to Blues’ health insurance ratepayers. BCBSM uses profits generated by Accident Fund to offset revenue that otherwise would have to be generated by health insurance lines of business.

Accident Fund also generates significant contributions for the state’s economy, and Lansing’s growing reputation as a national hub for insurance companies. Accident Fund is the 10th-largest workers compensation insurer in the nation, and owning subsidiaries based in other states allows the company to compete and grow its business outside Michigan. Accident Fund is headquartered in Lansing, where it employs 617 people, and last year opened a new national headquarters in a restored power plant in the heart of the city’s downtown. This new headquarters allowed BCBSM to bring hundreds of its own suburban Lansing workers into downtown Lansing to occupy Accident Fund’s former headquarters building. Accident Fund’s headquarters was constructed for growth, and it plans to remain and increase its workforce in mid-Michigan as it continues to grow its national customer base.

A separate count in the lawsuit regarding the ability of BCBSM to make capital contributions to Accident Fund is still pending in the Circuit Court, after being remanded from the Court of Appeals. We are confident the Circuit Court will follow the previous decision of the Commissioner of Insurance and rule in BCBSM’s favor, that the transfer of capital to Accident Fund from BCBSM was lawful.

If you have any questions about this ruling, please contact our newsroom at 313-549-9884.

Upcoming Event Reminder

Blue Cross and several partnering health care providers will make a major announcement about four statewide Collaborative Quality Initiatives on Tuesday, April 17 at the Blues’ Bricktown Auditorium in Detroit. The media is invited and encouraged to attend. The CQI program enlists hospitals and other providers across Michigan in comprehensive efforts to improve patient safety and clinical quality while reining in health care costs.

BluesWeek is a weekly snapshot of initiatives, events and other newsworthy tidbits under way at BCBSM

BluesWeek: Employees Begin Relocating to RenCen Tower 600 in Detroit

The Blues have begun moving employees into renovated offices in Tower 600 of the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. The first 281 employees moved into newly renovated offices in Tower 600 earlier this week, and another 306 will arrive Monday from Southfield. Blue Cross’ downtown Detroit campus will have more than 6,000 employees when the final moves wrap up this summer.

The submission period for the “Make the Play for Healthy Habits” kid video contest is now closed, with dozens of entries submitted from across the state. Readers can vote for their favorite finalists for two weeks starting April 11 on A Healthier Michigan. The winner, to be announced in early May, gets a school assembly with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and an opportunity to be a featured guest blogger.

Grace Derocha, a blogger on A Healthier Michigan and Blue Cross registered dietitian, takes her portion-control suitcase to the airwaves Friday to talk serving sizes and how to “live green” with fruits and vegetables. She touts health benefits including reduced blood pressure, weight loss and maintenance and more on Fox 2 News Friday during the 10 a.m. hour.

The April installment of The Healthier Michigan Radio Show examines the simple yet effective health benefits of walking. Host Ann Thomas interviews guests Jodi Davis, BCBSM’s walking advocate and blogger, and Blues health coach and blogger Angela Jenkins. The episode airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 on both WJR-AM and WJIM-AM in Lansing. It’s also available for listening online or as a podcast.

In Case You Missed It…

BCBSM is sponsoring an encore season of “Ernie” the play May 3 through July 28 at City Theater in Detroit. Written by media personality Mitch Albom, the play celebrates the life of legendary former Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who also served as a health and fitness advocate for the Blues.

BluesWeek is a weekly snapshot of initiatives, events and other newsworthy tidbits under way at BCBSM.

Photo by tukanuk

Live Downtown Residency Incentives are Helping to Rebuild Detroit

Efforts by engaged businesses and their activated employees to bring people to live where they work and play are breathing new life into downtownDetroit.

I spoke Tuesday at the annual luncheon meeting of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. As I look around at the progress we’ve made under the leadership of Cindy Pasky, I’ve never seen more buzz or tangible action on the streets.

Drawing Residents

The response to Live Downtown, a cash incentive program designed to bolster residency in the central business district and key adjoining neighborhoods, has been tremendous. In the first six months after we announced it in July 2011, we’ve approved more than 100 applications for new home purchases and rentals, existing rentals and home renovations. Another 250 employee applicants, including 50 pre-approved applicants, are in the pipeline.

More than three quarters of the applications to the program are coming from suburban residents who want to move into the city. At Blue Cross alone, we’ve had more than 12,000 hits to our internal Live Downtown website and nearly 200 employees who have applied for the program.

Live Downtown is a $4 million-plus initiative by the Blues, Compuware, Quicken Loans, DTE Energy and Strategic Staffing Solutions. Eligible participants can get a forgivable loan of up to $20,000 to purchase a home, $3,500 for a new rental and up to $5,000 for exterior renovations for projects worth at least $10,000.

Core Investments

Commitments from the five companies that sponsor Live Downtown have led to 7,000 additional jobs and roughly $120 million in new investment in Detroit since 2010.

This week, in fact, sees more than 280 BCBSM employees report for work for the first time at renovated offices in the Renaissance Center Tower 600. Another 305 will join them next week after relocating from Southfield, and by this summer, when our final moves have been completed, Blue Cross will have more than 6,300 employees on its unified downtown Detroit campus.

The moves add to the great progress we’re making at the DDP, a sampling of which are listed below (or read our 2012 Annual Report):

  • Developing a new Downtown Retail Strategy to work with downtown property owners with the goal of attracting 15 to 20 new retailers into Woodward Avenue storefronts by 2014
  • Supporting the Detroit Public Lighting Department as it retrofitted more than 1,000 streetlights to use energy-efficient LED lights in key areas of downtown
  • Launching D:hive, a collaborative effort to attract and retain new talent to Detroit through services including referrals, tours, real estate market information and start-up classes for aspiring entrepreneurs

While this is a great start, we’re nowhere near being done. The city’s current financial crisis shows that tough decisions — and far-sighted thinking and investment — are needed from business, residents and all who love Detroit.

But as I told Carol Cain for a recent Detroit Free Press column, I remain confident about the investments Blue Cross and others are making. If we work together in a sustained effort, momentum is on our side.

Daniel J. Loepp is president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the executive committee chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

Photo by utopiandreaming

How the New Entrepreneurial Spirit in Detroit Benefits All of Michigan

Even if you’re not in the habit of perusing business news, you owe it to yourself to read Inc. magazine’s comprehensive new series, “Innovation Hot Spots: Detroit.” The package of 15 stories (yes, you read that number right) about the city’s new startup culture crystallizes why so many people like me are bullish on the Motor City.

One of the headlines in this series puts it well: We are witnessing “A Whole New Groove for the Motor City” take shape. All of us who care about Detroit specifically and Michigan more broadly should feel excited about our region’s newfound sense of optimism and possibility.

Proud to Partner

I’ve written before about how we’re aligning our actions at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan with efforts to strengthen core cities like Detroit — by relocating roughly 3,000 suburban employees to downtown, by being part of the Live Downtown residency initiative, and by partnering with local vendors to create jobs, embrace diversity and achieve key business objectives.

While consolidating our corporate campus serves definite business interests, one of the secondary goals was to help support a critical mass of businesses in the central business district with people able to support them with their money. With help from partners like General Motors, Compuware, DTE Energy, Ilitch Holdings, Quicken Loans and its founder-turned venture capitalist, Dan Gilbert, we’re starting to see the fruits of those efforts.

Read more of this post