CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the largest nonprofit health plan in the mid-Atlantic, announced plans to develop 80,000 square feet of office space in the heart of Columbia. CareFirst worked with The Howard Hughes Corp. 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 in Howard County.

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 and Washington, D.C., workspaces. CareFirst’s “Future of Work” cross-functional team, including representatives from human resources, corporate real estate, technology, marketing and operations, has led efforts to design and implement flexible, technology-rich workspaces that support collaboration and seamless transitions between employees’ home and in-office workspaces.

“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,” said Angela Celestin, chief human resources officer for CareFirst. “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.”

The 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 and Washington, D.C. Approximately 200 employees work out of the current Columbia offices. 

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 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.