Prayers for a speedy recovery following sudden stroke for Quicken Loans CEO and Detroit visionary, Dan Gilbert.
By JN Staff
The shocking news that 57-year-old Dan Gilbert suffered a stroke on Sunday is a stark reminder of the impact one person with a vision — and the will to implement it — can have on a company, a city and a region’s future.
Gilbert moved Quicken and allied companies – approximately 1,700 employees — from Livonia to Detroit in 2010, despite a prolonged economic downturn and a city teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
He told Jewish News reporter Bill Carroll at the time that he was planning to “create the urban core of the city — new technology, and the best is yet to come. But we must retain the young talent graduating from colleges in the state … It’s interesting to read obituaries in the local papers and see how many of the surviving children and grandchildren are listed as living out of state. All of the companies must join the push for jobs here. We’re certainly doing our part.”
He tirelessly recruited skeptical companies and real estate developers — initially with mixed success — to join him in Detroit. Many were wary of taking such a gamble on a city with crumbling infrastructure, high crime rates and a deeply damaged reputation.
However, Gilbert’s pied-piper vision resonated throughout his Detroit Jewish community. A 2005 demographic study by Dr. Ira Sheskin found that Detroit’s Jewish population was the oldest outside of Sunbelt communities and that the number of adults in their 20s and early 30s was so small that they fell within the study’s overall 3% margin of error. Detroit lacked an abundance of well-paying jobs and a vibrant urban core.
That’s what Gilbert spawned.
Today, Gilbert’s Detroit companies have 17,000 employees. Thousands of other jobs have been created in and around the city’s core. And while there are still an overabundance of surface parking lots, Gilbert and others have been creating the work/live/play density that resonates with young, college-educated professionals.
The by-products of Gilbert’s efforts include the success of Federation’s NEXTGen engagement initiative, a revitalized Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and an annual Detroit Homecoming that has been particularly successful in connecting former Jewish Detroiters to each other and opportunities for investments in the city.
While Gilbert’s companies have deep leadership benches, his audacious vision — articulated in 2010 — remains the guiding light that ties all of the pieces together. We pray for his full recovery.