Dick DeVos Plays Major Role In Michigan’s Continued Growth

The state of Michigan is going to forever be linked to the work that the DeVos family has undertaken over the better part of the past fifty years. Dick and Betsy DeVos are two of Michigan’s most prominent political names thanks to their work as lobbyists, GOP donors, and now politicians at the highest levels of the United States government. Dick DeVos is the heir to Amway and the former President of the company while Betsy DeVos is currently serving as the Secretary of Education for the United States of America. While the DeVos family may be gravitating toward Washington D.C., we’re better served looking at the past thirty years of hard work they have put into making Grand Rapids a destination city for middle America.


Grand Rapids in the ’90s was a booming city with potential but with that potential, there was also some risk. In 1991, there was talk around town that a new convention center was to be installed in the downtown area of the city. Convention centers play a divisive role in most communities as they can be thriving sources of income or millstones that drag the entire city down and into the reality of tax burden. Dick DeVos opposed the construction of a new convention center from day one and he pointed to how Detroit had struggled in the wake of being abandoned by the Pistons and Lions, two professional sports teams that had once called convention centers in Detroit their home.


Dick DeVos would take his protest of the convention center construction one step further as he became a leader of the Grand Action group, an organization of business professionals who are committed to making Grand Rapids thrive through intelligent investments. The Grand Action group would eventually win out over the convention center job and they would go on to become integral donors and supporters of a variety of high-profile developments in the city. Among these many developments was the erection of the Spectrum Health System children’s hospital, funded in large part thanks to a $12.5 million donation from Dick DeVos himself.


Nowadays, Dick DeVos is working on the FAA Management Advisory Council as one of seven new civilians added to the committee. Dick DeVos was integral in getting the Gerald R. Ford International Airport new routes that would help the airport to thrive as a destination in the Midwest. Dick DeVos also helped to establish the West Michigan Aviation Academy back in 2010.


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