Northwest Arkansas business and civic leaders helped Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield celebrate the official opening of its new 81,000-square-foot Northwest Arkansas corporate center in Springdale on Wednesday (Nov. 3).
Speakers for the formal ribbon-cutting included:
- Springdale Chamber of Commerce President Bill Rogers
- Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse
- NWA Council President and Chief Executive Officer Nelson Peacock
- Arkansas Blue Cross President and Chief Executive Officer Curtis Barnett
“This is an important milestone in our presence in Northwest Arkansas, which stretches back to the mid-1960s,” Barnett said in a news release. “This part of our state has grown immensely in the past 55 years, and we are investing heavily in its future to help ensure it remains a vibrant, growing and healthy community.”
Little Rock-based USAble Corp., a wholly-owned Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield subsidiary, bought the 8.81-acre lot in November 2019 for $3.8 million. USAble assembled that same month an adjacent four lots totaling 3.46 acres for $1.4 million.
Colliers International in Rogers represented the company in the land purchase and is now the building’s property manager.
In February 2020, USAble chose Nabholz Corp. as the general contractor for the four-story building, backed by an initial building permit valued at $11.37 million. Crafton Tull was selected as the project’s engineering/architecture firm. Other subcontractors were Nabco Mechanical & Electrical Contractors Inc. of Conway (plumbing, HVAC and electrical), All Steel Construction of Benton (structural steel fabrication and erection), TCM Enterprises Inc. of Fayetteville (drywall and framing) and Florida-based Red Hawk Fire & Security.
Arkansas Blue Cross employees began working in the building in mid-September. Barnett said the facility can accommodate 300 people.
“We’re proud of the increased presence our growing number of employees and this building — along with our two ArkansasBlue retail welcome centers in Fayetteville and Rogers — bring to this part of our state,” Barnett said. “It will allow us to have bigger impact and do more.”
Little Rock-based Arkansas Blue Cross, the state’s largest health insurer, established a district sales office in Fayetteville in 1966. In 1996, the company opened a full-service regional office serving Northwest Arkansas on Millsap Road in Fayetteville. The company also has ArkansasBlue retail stores in Fayetteville and Rogers.
Arkansas Blue Cross has a large customer base in Northwest Arkansas, including in-state individual and group policyholders and national accounts. Arkansas Blue Cross maintains its corporate headquarters in Little Rock and operates regional offices and ArkansasBlue retail stores in Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.
ABOUT THE BUILDING
The building design incorporates corporate workplace best practices that the company and the project architects observed in other facilities.
Some of the building’s advanced features are:
- An in-house employee fitness center.
- A scenic outdoor space and pavilion area will be available to employees and for use by nonprofit community groups for special events.
- Floor plans that are highly functional and flexible through the use of moveable walls.
- “Hoteling” workstation areas for visiting staff, clients and vendors.
Some of the building’s environment-conscious features include:
- High-performance exterior glass that limits solar heat penetration and maximizes light.
- Regionally sourced exterior stone that workers cut on site.
- Automated daylight-sensing lighting systems with energy-efficient LED light sources.
- An abundance of interior finishes that contain recycled content.
- Automated mechanical systems that utilize economizers and energy-recovery units.
Barnett said the building represents the company’s growing commitment in Northwest Arkansas.
“But Arkansas Blue Cross’ commitment is not just about how we can do more in this region,” he said. “It’s also about how we can do better. We recognize that healthcare faces many challenges and that today’s solutions aren’t going to fix tomorrow’s problems. Innovation is drastically needed in healthcare: innovation in care delivery, technology and in business models.
“No place innovates or accomplishes more than Northwest Arkansas. This region has made the commitment to innovate and develop into a major medical, health-and-wellness corridor, and we’re excited to play an integral role in that development.”
Martine Pollard is the company’s top executive based in Northwest Arkansas. Previously a key member of Mercy Northwest Arkansas’ executive team, Pollard started Oct. 25 as vice president of the Northwest Arkansas market for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.