More than a year after it was announced, Blue Shield of California celebrated the opening of its new Long Beach office Wednesday.

“We are excited to be a part of the Long Beach community,” President and CEO Paul Markovich said in a statement. “As a nonprofit health plan, our goal is to create a health care system that is worthy of our family and friends and sustainably affordable – and that starts in our communities.”

The insurance company announced in June 2022 that it would be consolidating its regional operations into a Long Beach office near the airport. More than 1,000 employees will work in the space and likely bring foot traffic to neighborhood stores, restaurants and businesses, the company said.

Blue Shield signed an 11-year lease last summer for 71,753 square feet at 3840 Kilroy Airport Way within the Aero complex. The 5-story, roughly 136,000-square-foot building has been vacant since Epson America moved its headquarters to Los Alamitos in summer 2020.

In April, the firm said it planned to open the office on July 10.

“We are excited to have Blue Shield as neighbors, as friends, and as a thoughtful employer in our community,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in a statement.

In its efforts to plant roots in the community, Blue Shield and its employees have already begun contributing to the city fabric through volunteering and philanthropy, the company said. In June, the company sponsored the Conservation Corps’ annual gala event; in August staff volunteered with the Foodbank of Southern California, and on Oct. 13, dozens of employees will help clean up and pull weeds from the Wrigley Greenbelt.

Aside from its new office, the company’s largest investment into the city is the new Community Resource Center in North Long Beach, which opened as a joint venture between Blue Shield Promise and L.A. Care Health Plan. The companies have committed $146 million to open 14 such centers across LA County to provide free classes, programs and services to the general public.

The company previously said it was drawn to Long Beach for its “diverse, exceptional talent pool, its central location for LA employee commutes, proximity to the nearby Long Beach airport and many other local amenities.”

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.