Dan Gilbert is a powerful man – in Detroit. Now he wants to convince Silicon Valley to move to America’s Motor City where they’ll have wide open offices, inexpensive living, and access to amazing talent.
Gilbert, the chairman of Rock Ventures and the owner of Quicken Loans, owns 60 buildings in downtown Detroit that house 12,000 employees. He is also an active backer in startups and has been inviting small companies to come bloom in Detroit over the past half-decade.
Why should you move to Detroit?
“The perception doesn’t do it justice. You have a huge talent pool,” said Gilbert. “And the people are way cooler.”
Gilbert believes that the Midwest work ethic isn’t a myth. He said that, despite the rumors to the contrary, the city has an innovative city government and, thanks to his extensive purchases in Detroit, there is space to spare for new startups. He is also working hard to reduce blight around the city, ensuring that city doesn’t look like it does in the popular “desolation porn” that characterizes the city.
The result is a smaller, more compact city that allows smaller companies to gain a foothold in the tech economy.
The city is, arguably, entering a period of renaissance. Thanks to Quicken Loans and Gilbert’s work in the city, most of the blight has been converted to cheap office space. While it does still seem like a wasteland to the average graduate, we saw a city reborn when we visited in 2012 and things are improving immensely.
In short, he said, Detroit is all about opportunity.
“We have great bones,” said Gilbert.