CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Broadens Footprint in Howard County
New Office Space Investment Reinforces CareFirst’s Long-Term Commitment to its Workforce and Community-Centered Approach to Doing Business
Today, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the largest not-for-profit health plan in the Mid-Atlantic region, announced plans to develop 80,000 square feet of state-of-the-art office space in the heart of Columbia, MD. CareFirst worked with The Howard Hughes Corporation to secure the new space and expects to move in by the first quarter of 2024.
The decision to stay in Columbia reflects CareFirst’s broader workforce strategy, enabling the transformative enterprise architecture needed to enhance the company’s culture and drive future business performance, while maintaining a strong presence and connectivity with the Howard County community.
As part of the company’s community activation initiatives, CareFirst is partnering with Merriweather Post Pavilion to support The Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission’s (DCACC) efforts to bring engaging experiences to the residents of Howard County. CareFirst’s partnership includes sponsoring Merriweather Movie Nights, which supports the organization’s vision to make Downtown Columbia a premier destination for arts, culture and community.
“We are committed to investing in the region’s health, vibrancy, wellbeing and economy. We remain dedicated to maintaining a strong presence in communities throughout our service areas,” CareFirst’s President and CEO, Brian D. Pieninck, said. "The Howard County corridor connects our dual corporate headquarters in Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C. as we evolve our regional presence and community partnerships in additional urban, suburban and rural communities throughout CareFirst's service area."
The new Columbia office will reflect the company’s core principles and updated approach to workplace design recently applied to the organization’s Owings Mills, MD and Washington, D.C. workspaces. CareFirst's "Future of Work" cross-functional team, including representatives from the Human Resources, Corporate Real Estate, Technology, Marketing, and Operations teams, has led efforts to design and implement flexible, technology-rich workspaces that support collaboration and seamless transitions between employees’ home and in-office workspaces.
Angela Celestin, Chief Human Resources Officer for CareFirst, shared, “By integrating physical workspace with technology in our new workplace, we support our mobile, hybrid workforce while breathing life into an in-office experience that connects employees with one another, and with members. This approach is about advancing our culture of health. If you don't feel well, stay home; if sitting next to your colleagues would bring you energy, drive better collaborations and support your mental health, go to the office.”
Current employees are piloting the newly designed workspaces, furniture, technology and health-focused amenities as CareFirst looks to solidify its Baltimore and Columbia location plans. The company expects the newly designed workplaces aligned with regional expansion strategies will drive cultural change for employees and the community.
This 11-year lease on Merriweather Drive is part of CareFirst’s broader hub and spoke real estate strategy. The long-term corporate plan includes the expanded Howard County location as a spoke, off the dual corporate headquarter hubs of Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C. Approximately 200 employees work out of the current Columbia offices. Upon completion, this new space will serve an evolving workforce with flexible, modern space.
Recent announcements for the development of CareFirst offices not only support their corporate workforce, but also positions the company and its resources to provide greater access to members as it deploys broader capabilities as part of this community-centered strategy.
CareFirst remains committed to identifying innovative ways to impact its neighbors, and the people and communities it serves across the region.
About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShieldIn its 85th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit healthcare company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.6 million individuals and employers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2021, CareFirst invested $26.2 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of healthcare throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at www.carefirst.com and our transforming healthcare page at www.carefirst.com/transformation, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.