Little Caesars Arena, home to the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons, is now also home to the regional office of technology giant Google.
About 100 employees of the search engine and cloud computing company will host a ceremonial grand opening Thursday for their new office space on two floors of the arena’s south side. The staffers moved into the arena complex in August.
The Google staff moved from suburban Birmingham, making Google the latest big-name corporate player to leave the suburbs for the newly revitalized downtown. Ally Financial, Fifth Third Bank and Lear have all moved significant offices into the downtown core from the suburbs in the past couple of years.
The arena office wing thus becomes a base for Google’s sales workers who work with automotive and finance clients like Quicken Loans.
Danielle Russell, Google’s Detroit site leader, said the move downtown will tie Google closer to the regional talent pool and the revitalization of the city.
“When we think about Detroit, we think about the long history, the great culture and innovation that has happened in the city,” Russell said. “Ensuring we are around the people here who are hardworking, deeply committed to community, and ensuring that we pursue that innovation that we see happening all around, is something we really wanted to make sure in this next chapter that we were part of.”
Eric Yuhasz, Google’s facilities manager for Michigan, echoed that.
“We’re excited to be down in the Detroit area,” he said. “We came down here to tap into that talent pool and be a part of the city and give back to the community.”
A media tour of the new Google space Wednesday showed off the kind of office design major technology companies provide for their staffers. “We come early and leave late,” Russell said, and so Google provides a full-service cafeteria, a workout gym, a massage room, outdoor balconies with expansive views of downtown, and other amenities.
There is also an emphasis on Detroit history and culture. Meetings rooms are named after local landmarks like Hitsville U.S.A. and the Heidelberg Project. One wall is decorated with scenes of old postcards of Belle Isle. The main lobby entrance includes an installation of Pewabic Pottery.
“It’s all-around iconic Detroit history,” Russell said.
Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc., which operates the arena and surrounding area, said the Google move was good for the city.
“Google’s move into the city was exactly the type of economic development we were hoping to spur with The District Detroit, a move which contributes to the city’s resurgence by bringing jobs and innovation to the benefit of all Detroiters,” he said.
Google is using its grand opening Thursday to announce $1 million in grants to advance science and technical education among Detroit-area students.
In one grant, Google is giving $750,000 grant to SMASH Detroit, part of a nationwide initiative to help youth of color with rigorous science, technology, engineering and math education that will help them enter those fields professionally.
The grant will support a newly launched site at Wayne State University for three years, including 120 SMASH scholars and at least 300 high school students who will benefit from broader programming.
John Ray, director of SMASH Detroit, said the Google grant will “definitely help expand our connections and network and touch more lives in the Detroit area. That’s definitely going to go a long way.”
In the second grant, Google is giving $250,000 to the Michigan Engineering Zone at the University of Michigan’s Detroit Center. The grant to the MEZ builds upon the company’s $250,000 award two years ago and will help expand STEM and robotics programming for 350 students year-round.
Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.
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