Linked in to Detroit

The Woodward Avenue corridor has become a hotbed for companies looking to be linked in to Detroit’s ever-growing tech community. LinkedIn is the latest tech-minded company to locate to Detroit, opening its new permanent regional home at 1523 Woodward.

The 75,000 square-foot office in the Albert Kahn-designed Sanders and Grinnell buildings represents a huge expansion within the market for LinkedIn, which began its operations out of Detroit’s WeWork co-working space in 2017 with just 15 team members. The company now has 50 employees, who moved in at the end of March.

“We made a conscious decision to invest in Detroit because we believe we can have a meaningful impact on the local economy and put our money to work in a community that is rebuilding,” said Mike Gamson, LinkedIn Senior Vice President of Global Sales Solutions. “This is an important step to help level the playing field and further democratize access to jobs.”

LinkedIn is the latest in a slew of tech companies that have chosen to either move or expand their operations to Detroit, including Waymo, WeWork, Google, Snap, Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, Grand Circus, Uber, Pinterest, Quicken Loans, StockX and countless others.

“LinkedIn knows as much as anyone about the importance of tying threads, so it only makes sense that they chose Detroit’s urban core for their next major regional office,” said Dan Gilbert, Bedrock founder and chairman. “LinkedIn’s move downtown is another example demonstrating that Detroit’s tech scene is rapidly growing, bringing with it established companies and start-ups alike, which in turn is attracting exceptional talent to the Motor City. And it’s that talent that is in turn attracting more of these types of exciting companies. In other words, it is the yin and yang of today’s global economy.”

The opening of the new LinkedIn office included a tour of the building and a panel discussion focused on the future of work in Detroit. The panel was moderated by the Detroit Free Press’ John Gallagher and included Whitfield, Renee Fluker, president of the mentorship and skill building non-profit Midnight Golf; Ron Stefanski, managing director for corporate education for Penn Foster Education, Nicole Sherard-Freeman, president and CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., and Keith Whitfield, provost of Wayne State University. LinkedIn plans to use the space to host more panels in the future.

In addition to LinkedIn’s move, global wealth management firm UBS opened a new office just blocks away from at 1201/1217 Woodward and Bedrock purchased the Fowler Building at 1225 Woodward, which will soon be renovated and home to destination retail. In March, global retailer H&M announced that they will open their first Detroit location this fall, by opening a large, 25,000-square-feet store located along the Woodward shopping district on the same block as LinkedIn’s new office.

The building LinkedIn will occupy was designed by renowned Detroit architect Albert Kahn. Detroiters still refer to this location as “the Sanders Building” and “the Grinnell Building” because the original tenants of what used to be two addresses were home to the two iconic Detroit brands. Sanders Chocolates, which still wholesales its popular hot fudge products and ice cream today, once operated a candy and soda fountain shop on the retail level while the Grinnell Bros. Music House once operated the world’s largest piano distributor.

“While our design honors the great history of the space, we also included a few modern amenities including a café, barista lounge, mindfulness room, and parent’s room,” LinkedIn said.

The company also reported that 80 percent of its employees in the Detroit office are from the area and that it was important for them to continue to actively invest in the local community through their signature partnerships and programs. Since first coming to Detroit, they have partnered with two Detroit youth-based programs, Midnight Golf and Future Project.

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