Half A Million Could Keep Blue Cross In The Falls

One item on the City Council agenda for Tuesday, Dec. 18 is the approval of up to $820,000 to keep Blue Cross/ Blue Shield from leaving the City of Wichita Falls.

Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Kevin Pearson said Blue Cross told the city that the company was "looking at the possibility of consolidation." Pearson said they were not told what branches could be impacted by the consolidation, but the city didn't want to take the chance of losing the company.

In exchange for $670,000, Blue Cross would have to retain all 335 current, full time positions at the branch on Southwest Parkway. The city also offered an additional $150,000 if Blue Cross creates 50 new jobs.

Pearson said Blue Cross told the city they will use the money for building upgrades. Blue Cross Sr. Manager of Media and Public Relations Ross Blackstone could not comment on how the funds will be used.

Blackstone did issue a statement on behalf of the company saying, "We have a great relationship with the City of Wichita Falls and we are committed to maintaining our presence there."

If Blue Cross does not retain all of the current jobs at the Wichita Falls branch, the company will have to pay $333.33, per position, for each year of the six-year long contract with the city.

The City Council must still vote on this measure. If approved, the money would come from the city's 4A Fund, which is specifically for "primary job creation."

The 4A fund makes $3.2-3.5 million in revenue each year, and currently has "a few million dollars", according to Pearson.