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Detroit — LinkedIn opened the doors of its new permanent regional home on Woodward to visitors Wednesday, among the latest businesses to locate in the downtown Detroit corridor.

Officials and area professionals were on hand to celebrate with the professional network site's space at 1523 Woodward, a 75,000-square-foot office in the Albert Kahn-designed Sanders and Grinnell buildings. The employed moved there at the end of March.

“We’ve been inspired by a lot of the activity that’s been happening here, a lot of the momentum around creating economic opportunity,” said Mike Derezin, vice president for learning solutions at LinkedIn. “We’re very delighted, excited to invest in this community.”

Among the attendees Wednesday were Mayor Mike Duggan and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Duggan said he remembers after he graduated from law school at the University of Michigan in the 1980s, his classmates took jobs in New York and Los Angeles. He chose to stay in Detroit and found that he was among the only young people working downtown.

He said he watched as shopping, banks and law firms moved out of downtown.

“All of these buildings were empty,” he said. “I got to watch. It was sad as these buildings literally turned off their lights and basically shuttered their windows. I thought never in my lifetime would I see Woodward come back again. To see what’s happening is remarkable.”

LinkedIn began its Detroit operations in 2017 with 15 employees in a WeWork space. Since that time, its staff has grown to 50. The company is among a group of tech-related firms opening offices in Detroit, including Waymo, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and StockX.

Woodward has drawn recent development activity. Earlier this week, UBS opened a new office at 1201/1217 Woodward. Also this month, Bedrock announced that it had purchased 1225 Woodward, which will be renovated for retail.

"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, in a statement Wednesday.

Keith Whitfield, provost of Wayne State University, said he’s excited to have LinkedIn expanding in Detroit.

“There’s so much to do, there’s so much capacity and so much opportunity,” he said. “We want to make the opportunities for people, the mobility for people in terms of jobs.”

The event Wednesday included a tour of the building and a panel discussion focused on the future of work in Detroit. It’s the first of future panels the company says it plans to hold in the space.

Moderated by John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press, the panel included Whitfield, Renee Fluker, president of the mentorship and skill building nonprofit Midnight Golf; Ron Stefanski, managing director for corporate education for Penn Foster Education, and Nicole Sherard-Freeman, president and CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., which operates the city’s Detroit at Work program.

Among the topics discussed were the impact data can have for job seekers. Stefanski suggested the data that LinkedIn collects be used to help operators of programs such as Midnight Golf and Detroit Employment Solutions help clients identify training they can use to build on their prior work experience.

“I think we have to empower them with more data so that someone working with an individual at a one-stop can say, 'Wait a minute. You have two years of retail experience, and you have two years in a logistics warehouse. Do you know that people with your similar background end up taking this informatics specialist program and end up doing really well, get a job in 60 days?’" Stefanski said.

"That kind of data is going to change lives. That’s the kind of data is what we need to lift this city up.”

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: CWilliams_DN

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