At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we place a significant importance on being a part of the resurgence of Michigan’s core cities. In 2013, 97% of our statewide workforce is located in the downtown cores of our state’s largest cities—Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Lansing. This concentration helps build business initiatives, community engagement, culture and job creation. Jeff Connolly, President of West Michigan Operations and Managed Care for BCBSM, explains, “[BCBSM] wants to be a part of the community. It allows for us to share our mission as an organization and partner with other surrounding businesses.” In Grand Rapids, BCBSM joins the community as a key player of support during times of both small and large engagement, like ArtPrize. Running from September 18th to October 6th this year, ArtPrize provides an avenue for an international spotlight on Grand Rapids. With over 1,500 different entries and representation of approximately 50 different countries, this year’s ArtPrize is sure to enrich the core city initiative even further. As a sponsor and venue host, BCBSM believes in the importance of ArtPrize as an opportunity for growth of the company and of Grand Rapids as a whole. “One of the best features [of ArtPrize] is the fact it brings global attention to our community. It’s also a major financial engine for our local economy—people visit from near and far to experience ArtPrize, which generates a great deal of business for local restaurants, stores, hotels, and more,” notes Connolly. Michigan core cities are an integral part of the mission behind BCBSM as a company and community player. Numerous initiatives, like the 2004 renovation of the Steketees building downtown Grand Rapids into a BCBSM office, have placed employees at the heart of the city with the ability to promote Michigan businesses on a regular basis. On the essentiality of core cities for Michigan growth, Connolly stresses “Core cities draw young folks into our job market as they are exiting college. Their newly gained knowledge allows for us to take our city and state to the next level economically.” In other words, by enriching our core cities and making our presence known through avenues like ArtPrize, we allow for the BCBSM business to grow and be successful. “By investing in our community, either financially or through volunteer roles, we help to keep Grand Rapids vibrant, prosperous, and thriving,” summarizes Connolly.
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