Baltimore County News
CareFirst, one of the largest health and wellness companies in the region, is also one of the largest employers in Baltimore County. Over 2,200 CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield workers are based in Owings Mills.
That’s the good news. The even better news is that CareFirst has renewed seven leases that will keep many of the company’s key operations in Baltimore County through 2028.
CareFirst offices are at the center of a booming Owings Mills, along Red Run Boulevard and overlooking Metro Centre at Owings Mills, the soon-to-be-redeveloped mall property, new apartments and townhomes and near the Foundry Row development and Stevenson University. The convenience of interstate and Metro at their doorstep, exciting new restaurants and shopping, a public library and community college center and a Class-A business community make for a great place to work.
So as you come off the Owings Mills exit at I-795, look toward the high rise offices at the town center. Then give a wave and a thank you to CareFirst for its long-term commitment to Baltimore County.
You’ll be seeing the CareFirst logo in Owings Mills for many years to come.
Northwest Hospital’s new $5 million Liberty Center medical facility launches a multi-phase development plan that will expand the hospital’s Randallstown campus. Plans include additional buildings with an integrated design, landscaping and art features to unify and revitalize the campus. Liberty Center, with its prominent location at the intersection of Liberty and Old Court Roads, will serve as the gateway to the Northwest Hospital campus.
“As the corridor’s largest employer, Northwest Hospital is the institutional anchor of the Liberty Road communities. LifeBridge Health continues to make significant investments that bring jobs and contribute to the economic vitality of Randallstown and the entire County,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “We are especially pleased that their commitment goes well beyond economic health. LifeBridge extends its medical mission to community partnerships and engagement that improve the quality of life for thousands of County residents each year.”
“The new Liberty Center is a shining example of Northwest Hospital’s ongoing redevelopment in Randallstown and our continued commitment to addressing the needs of the communities we serve,” said Brian White, president of Northwest Hospital and senior vice president of LifeBridge Health.
Liberty Center and ExpressCare
LifeBridge Health, the parent company of Northwest Hospital, invested more than $5 million to redevelop and expand the Liberty Center building, growing the available space from 8,000 to 13,800 square feet to accommodate new medical offices. An upgrade to the façade matches other facilities on the Northwest campus and the designs in the revitalization plan.
ExpressCare, a LifeBridge Health partner, will anchor the building on the first floor with a 4,600 square foot urgent care center. This ExpressCare location will open on February 29 with eight exam rooms offering patient care seven days a week with an on-site X-ray machine and laboratory for some basic tests. A pediatrician’s office will occupy the second floor of the building. Plans for the third floor are still in development.
More Investment Coming to Liberty Road Communities
Following the opening of the Liberty Center, the Northwest Hospital campus revitalization plans shift to facilities on Old Court Road, across the street from the hospital itself. These new and redeveloped buildings may include doctors’ offices and outpatient medical services along with potential office space for administrative departments. Plans and timelines for this next phase are still in development. The new projects complement improvements already underway inside the hospital itself, such as upgrades to the emergency department and the operating rooms.
“Northwest Hospital is taking a comprehensive approach to modernizing facilities to meet the needs of a changing health care system. The result will be more streamlined, convenient health and wellness services on a landscaped campus that revitalizes aging buildings and brings jobs to the Liberty Road communities,” added County Executive Kamenetz.
Sale saves taxpayers millions of dollars
In its most recent bond sale on February 23, 2016, the County sold $255 million of general obligation bonds consisting of $112 million Consolidated Public Improvement (CPI) 20-year serial bonds, $88 million Metropolitan District (Metro) 30-year serial bonds and $55 million Metropolitan District Refunding bonds. The County’s bonds were well received by the market. The CPI bonds sold at a rate of 2.60% and the Metro bonds sold at a rate of 3.20%.The Metro Refunding bonds sold at a rate of 3.20%, creating a savings for County taxpayers of approximately $11.2 million over the next 22 years.
The bonds were rated triple-A by Moody’s Investor Service, Standard and Poor’s Rating Services, and Fitch Ratings. A triple-A rating is the highest possible rating for a municipality and allows the County to issue its bonds at the lowest possible interest rate. The County is one of only 42 counties nationwide that has been assigned this rating by all three rating agencies.
“We continue to make the tough fiscal decisions necessary to maintain the County’s triple AAA bond rating,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “It means that the fiscal experts have determined that our county is well-managed, and it allows us to borrow money for schools, roads and other priorities at the lowest interest rate possible. A government run well makes a real difference in the quality of life for County citizens.”
“I am very proud that Baltimore County continues to manage its finances wisely,” said Council Chair and 2nd District Councilwoman Vicki Almond. “Families in my district and all over this County expect us to do what they do each and every day, and that is be good stewards of their money.”
Excerpts from the rating reports:
The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the county will continue to maintain a healthy financial position in the near-term that is supported by comprehensive fiscal policies and the maintenance of satisfactory fund balance levels, and above average, but manageable debt burden.
The employment base is broad and deep. Government, health care, financial services, and higher education predominate, with skilled manufacturing and technology becoming a growing sector and major focus of economic development. The county has five regional medical centers and five colleges and universities providing some employment stability. It is also home to several government agencies including the Social Security Administration and Medicare and Medicaid Services, which combined employs nearly 16,000 people. However, federal employment represents only 5% of the total county employment base limiting its exposure to any potential downsizing.
Standard and Poor’s
We view the county’s management as very strong with “strong” financial policies and practices under our Financial Management Assessment methodology, indicating financial practices are strong, well embedded, and likely sustainable.
Revised April 6, 2016