Successful business man, philanthropist, and active political figure, Dick DeVos has done much to shape the Grand Rapids area. His influence in the Grand Rapids area is unprecedented and the DeVos name is ubiquitous throughout the Grand Rapids area. Interestingly, his biggest influence may be in something that did not happen.
In 1991 community leaders considered a plan for a multi-purpose sports arena and convention center in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dick DeVos, who was working for Amway at the time, opposed this proposal from the very beginning.
Dick DeVos saw what happened to nearby Detroit as a cautionary tale. A few decades earlier the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills was built and it did not have entirely positive effects on that city. DeVos was weary of allowing this to happen to his city and took action.
He believed that it would not be beneficial to build the venues outside of the business district. DeVos, and other people who felt as he did, went on to form an organization called Grand Action.
This group was successful in their effort and was later the group behind the construction projects that went on to transform Grand Rapids. These successful projects include, Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Place Convention Center, the DeVos Performance Hall and Michigan State University’s medical school.
These projects are only a few of the positive effects that Dick DeVos has had on Grand Rapids. He and his family are very active philanthropists who founded the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. This foundation has given over $138 million to various charitable causes from 1989-2015. This money went to support the arts, health services, churches, and many other causes.
The DeVos family has also been very active leaders in the education reform movement. They advocate for school choice. They believe that every parent should have options for their child’s education and that the government should allow them to make the best choices for their children. One of their biggest accomplishments in the education sector is the establishment of their aviation charter school at Grand Rapids airport.
Dick DeVos and his family has dedicated themselves to making life better for Grand Rapids residents. His leadership has lead the city to embrace ideas that will enhance the city, and reject ideas that can potentially regress the city’ progress. He has achieved these goals through political action, philanthropy, and reform.
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