Dan Gilbert believes strongly in the power of reinvesting in America's cities. He's certainly a businessman who pairs his money with his convictions. Gilbert moved Quicken Loans' headquarters from Livonia, Michigan, to downtown Detroit in 2010 to attract younger recruits. He saw that young people entering the workforce were looking for more than just a job, they wanted the whole urban experience.
Gilbert and his companies have invested more than $2.2 billion to purchase and renovate more than 95 properties in Detroit, including several of the city's famed art deco era skyscrapers, former landmarks like the Hudson building, and even one of the city's casinos. Bedrock, Gilbert's real estate company, announced plans in September to build a large hotel on Woodward, the city's main drag, with Detroit-based watch and bike maker Shinola.
His vision for Detroit includes strong mass transit and the building of a technology hub dedicated to mobility innovation. Gilbert challenged the Big Three automakers in general, and General Motors in particular, to come together to create such a hub in order to turn Detroit into a transportation tech version of Silicon Valley.
"The car business is technology on wheels," Gilbert told the Detroit News. "The good news if you're in the city-building business is that it's a great time to be alive. Because attracting digital companies is less expensive and faster."
Gilbert's desire to foster transportation innovation in Detroit is evidenced by his support for the city's new streetcar system, now called the QLine, with Gilbert purchasing the naming rights.
Tim Armstrong, CEO of Autoblog's parent company AOL, will interview Gilbert about why Detroit is a great place for innovation, spurring the evolution of the Motor City into a Motion City; a place where all forms of transportation come together. UPSHIFT is a transportation and mobility conference happening in Detroit on Oct. 6. For a complete run down of all of our exciting speakers, click here.