“Why I Love Living—and Working—in Grand Rapids”

“Why I Love Living—and Working—in Grand Rapids”

Karrie Thompson is a Grand Rapids native, born and bred, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. A self-proclaimed “four seasons kind of girl,” she’s always loved the natural beauty that West Michigan has to offer. That’s why when it came time to choose where she was going to build a life and career as an adult, it was a no-brainer to stick close to her hometown. “I’ve been a west-sider my entire life,” she says. “I love Michigan and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

And after working for the past nine years at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Karrie feels like she’s finally found her place. Now a secretary in the West Michigan New Business department, Karrie enjoys what she does and where she gets to do it more than ever. “You really can’t go wrong working for Blue Cross. They really care about you as an individual and offer so many opportunities for you to take advantage of,” explains Karrie.

Better Every Year

Growing up, Karrie witnessed first-hand the steady development progress being made downtown. “About 20 years ago, downtown Grand Rapids really started to come back alive and feel revitalized,” she says. While she recalls the city being much less active in her childhood years, these days, the abundance of entertainment venues and community activities keeps the city bustling. “Things are evolving so beautifully here, and that’s exciting to be a part of,” she said. She and her husband currently live on the northwest side of Grand Rapids, reaping the benefits of the city’s growing metropolitan feel and small-town charm.

More and More Opportunities

The economy of Grand Rapids has also undergone a transformation. The city is a growing hub for many industries including insurance, banking and technology. In fact, the Bureau of Economic Analysis recently ranked Grand Rapids as having the sixth fastest-growing Gross Regional Product (GRP) in the country. That’s one of the reasons why major companies like Blue Cross have planted roots there.

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Fitness, Food & Fun

With gyms and fitness studios seemingly on every corner, gorgeous parks near the office and a pedestrian- and bike-friendly environment, Karrie and her coworkers often spend lunch breaks getting in a quick workout, walking along the Grand River, enjoying live music, visiting farmers markets or trying out the latest and greatest food trucks in the area. “I couldn’t imagine not working downtown,” Karrie says. “The city is always putting a new spin on things, which helps me have a good work-life balance.” To top it off, Grand Rapids is also known for its cultural and creative events, like the annual Art Prize exhibitions and Polish and Hispanic Festivals.

A Focus on Community

It’s the inclusive nature of Grand Rapids that Karrie loves so much. “On any given day, you’ll see people of different backgrounds and stages of life, from newlyweds and young professionals to families and empty-nesters,” she says. “It’s encouraging to see how welcoming Grand Rapids is to people and businesses and how more and more people are choosing to live and work here.”

The city’s emphasis on community goes hand-in-hand with Karrie’s work at Blue Cross. “The company offers a lot of volunteer opportunities, most of which are located right here in downtown Grand Rapids,” says Karrie. For example, Karrie and her coworkers participate in a mentorship and tutoring program supported by Blue Cross, where as a tutor, she meets one-on-one with students at Burton Elementary to help with homework and basic reading skills. “These programs really enrich workplace wellness by connecting us to the community where we work,” says Karrie. “It adds a fulfilling experience to our day-to-day jobs and reminds us of the responsibility and privilege we have in serving our fellow Grand Rapids residents and all Michiganders.”

Karrie looks forward to many more years with Blue Cross in Grand Rapids and the continued progress of the city’s development. “I live and work where I love,” said Karrie. “And I can’t wait to see how Grand Rapids will continue to grow.”

For more stories of Blue Cross team members, check out these blogs:

Photo Credit: Karrie Thompson

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