In its new cover feature, Forbes
magazine has coined downtown Detroit "Gilbertville," a place that's now attracting the coveted Millenial generation to work downtown. This story on Dan Gilbert and his city empire makes for a fascinating read.
"As you’ve likely heard, over the past four years Gilbert has become one of Detroit’s single-largest commercial landowners, renovating the city with the energy and impact of a modern-day Robert Moses, albeit bankrolled with his own money. He’s purchased and updated more than 60 properties downtown, at a total cost of $1.3 billion. He moved his own employees into many of them–12,000 in all, including 6,500 new hires–and cajoled other companies such as Chrysler, Microsoft and Twitter to follow. He recruited 140 tenants, though most are tiny startups and other entrepreneurs his venture firm helped finance.
His empire rests on luring the kind of young, educated, technologically savvy employees that every employer in the nation craves. To get them he must compete with the golden glow of places like Palo Alto and Manhattan. Gilbert’s genius is to see Detroit–the most dilapidated, forlorn urban environment in North America–not as a hindrance but rather as a unique opportunity to build the kind of place that Millennial workers crave: authentic, inspiring, edgy and cheap.
And it’s working. “We turned down 21,000 kids who raised their hands and said, ‘I want to work in downtown Detroit,’ ” says Gilbert, who got 22,000 résumés for 1,300 internships this summer. “ They were from everywhere. Of all the metrics you’re looking at, that’s the one that makes me the most optimistic."