Earlier this month, Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield opened its $40 million, 81,000-SF Northwest Arkansas Corporate Center in Springdale, where it expects 300 employees will eventually work.
About two-and-a-half years ago, ABCBS started thinking about expanding its footprint in northwest Arkansas, said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of ABCBS.
During the past decade, waves of people and health systems were attracted to northwest Arkansas. In 2020, the population of Benton and Washington counties was about 520,000. By 2045, the population is projected to be nearly 975,000, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Institute.
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“We have just felt like we needed to be a part of that and have a bigger presence in the community,” Barnett said. “It’s a very dynamic medical community and business community up there that is willing to try new things … and we want to be a part of that as well.”
Founded in 1948, ABCBS has been in northwest Arkansas for about 60 years and opened a regional office there in 1994. It also has retail centers in Rogers and Fayetteville called Arkansas Blue Welcome Centers, where people can walk in and buy insurance policies or receive services.
ABCBS had about 50-60 employees working in northwest Arkansas, and another 50-60 have moved to the new building. Barnett said more will be working at the building during the next year or so.
He said the new office digs will offer similar services to those at its Little Rock headquarters.
Nabholz Corp. of Conway was the general contractor for the project, and Crafton Tull of Little Rock was the project’s engineering and architecture firm.