Grand Rapids was all set for a multi-purpose sports and convention arena north of downtown in 1991. However, when Dick DeVos heard of the plan, he believed that there was something else that could be done for the city.
He had dealt with this type of sports complex construction before and had seen the issues caused by the Lions and Pistons leaving the city in the 1970s. At the time, the construction of the Pontiac Silverdome had caused a strain on the city’s finances. There were many reasons why DeVos could not allow what happened to occur in Grand Rapids.
DeVos had said at the time, “Their lesson was not lost on me.” He was the CEO of Amway starting from 1993 all the way up to 2002.
As Betsy DeVos rose to fame for her education reform in 2017, Dick DeVos has also been tapped for FAAS. He gave a speech at the 30th annual dinner of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids at DeVos Place in June 2017. Now he seems to be headed to Washington to work with his wife Betsy DeVos, who is the US Education Secretary.
He has been appointed to the top civilian panel of the Federal Aviation Administration, and he is one of 7 members appointed by the US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
This is another notch for DeVos as he has long been a pilot and Amway company man. He has been no stranger to wooing others to help Grand Rapids and the state of Michigan, where he lives. He even called up the CEO of AirTran Airways to help improve the Grand Rapids airport.
AirTran began service in Grand Rapids, and then carrier was purchased by Southwest, another airline which DeVos had been asked to bring to his hometown’s airport. He eventually convinced Southwest to to add direct flights to Denver, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Orlando. The success created $45 million in upgrades to the airport that will be completed in 2018.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation is also responsible for sending over $187 million to various arts and culture organizations, as well as supporting education facilities and community programs. Betsy DeVos also has created tax-funded vouchers for kids to be able to go to private schools, and there has been increased focus on what DeVos will do now that his wife has transformed the education system in America.
If we can learn anything from Dick’s track record, it’s that he will continue to support the growth and businesses of Grand Rapids. Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/DickDeVosII