With Quizzle’s Move Downtown, Dan Gilbert Declares Detroit Area ‘WEBward Avenue’ for Tech Revitalization

Dan Gilbert, the chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, is hoping that if he declares Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s main drag, to be a new, tech-centered “WEBward Avenue” often enough, it just might come true. It also doesn’t hurt that he has the money and clout to perhaps make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That’s why the businessman, who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, is screaming to the rafters today about something completely unrelated to LeBron James’s move to Miami. Gilbert announced yesterday that Quicken’s sister company, Quizzle, will join Quicken when it moves into the Compuware building in Detroit later this month. Quizzle is a financial website with more than 500,000 registered users, according to the company, that helps consumers manage their personal finances.

Quicken Loans had announced a couple of years ago, with great fanfare, that it was going to move downtown into the Compuware building, which itself is a focus of Detroit revitalization. In 2003, when Compuware moved its headquarters from suburban Farmington Hills to the cleared-away rubble that used to be Detroit’s landmark Hudson’s building, renaming the area Campus Martius, there was a great deal of rejoicing that, at last, Detroit would stop leaking businesses. Any business, large or small, that decides to move from the suburbs into Detroit is big news around here because, for so long, the opposite has been true.

Now, after a couple years of delay, Quicken will finally move downtown by the end of this month. And it’s urging other tech-related companies to follow it. Quizzle is the latest.

“Downtown Detroit is about to experience a boom in the creation and growth of entrepreneurial, technology-focused companies unlike anything seen before in our part of the country,” Gilbert said in a prepared statement. “We are more than excited to be at the core of this transformation.”

As proof of this transformation, Gilbert cites other companies’ recently announced moves to downtown Detroit, including Fathead, Gilbert’s sports logo business; In-House Realty, a real estate referral and brokerage unit that is also a Quicken subsidiary; and One Reverse Mortgage, acquired by Quicken in 2008.

Yes, they all have one thing in common, and it’s certainly not tech. It might be more appropriate to call this section of town “QUICKward Avenue.”

However, this is how a trend can begin, so I do not want to diminish its importance. It is true that between Compuware, Quicken, and all the mini-Quickens moving into one area, that part of Woodward Avenue will, indeed, continue to grow as a business center. And, if you build it, and declare it to be a tech center, then perhaps the tech companies will come.

“We are a young, energetic, new-economy growth company looking forward to benefitting from what Detroit has to offer us, and also contributing to the very exciting future of our downtown,” Todd Albery, Quizzle’s CEO, said in a statement.  “We are thrilled to be among the high-tech, Internet-based companies lined up along the new ‘WEBward Avenue.'”

Well, it’s a short line, but a line is forming nonetheless.

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