Dick DeVos is an American entrepreneur and businessman who also served as the CEO to Amway. He is married to Betsy DeVos who is the Secretary of Education for the United States, and together, they have done quite a bit for the state of Michigan. Dick DeVos earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration while studying at Northwood University, and he also received honorary doctorates from Central Michigan University, Northwood University, and Grove City College. He ran to serve as Michigan’s governor in 2006 but lost the race to Jennifer Granholm who was the incumbent.
Close to three decades ago, back in 1991, he led an effort to put a stop to a multi-purpose sports and convention arena that was going to be built just north of Grand Rapids, Michigan’s downtown area. The plan for the arena was being introduced to the public, and as soon as he heard about it, he was on the phone lobbying against it. The reason for his concern was related to his experience and what he witnessed in Detroit when the Detroit Pistons and Lions left the city after it had paid to build the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills. This happened during the 1970’s, but his memory of how detrimental it was to the city remained.
Instead of waiting for others to get around to doing it, he was a part of the putting together of Grand Action, which is a group of business leaders who, first, helped to put a stop to the construction of the arena but also ended up doing much more. Grand Action was responsible for the building of the DeVos Place Convention Center, Michigan State University’s medical school, the Grand Rapids City Market, and many other useful buildings in the city of Grand Rapids. Thankfully, for the city, the arena that could have had a negative effect on the city was never built.
Dick DeVos has done so much more for the city of Grand Rapids and for the entire state of Michigan. He was a part of the effort that led to Michigan changing into a state where workers do not have to be unionized before getting a job. His wife and himself also created the Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, which has donated over $138 million to the arts and culture sectors, health and human services, programs that build leaders, churches, and policy initiatives that aim to improve the educational system of the state and the country, at-large.
Dick DeVos was also the man who helped to convince Southwest to run non-stop flights out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. The airport now serves double of what the average airport in the United States does. He also started up an aviation charter school, which is located on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The West Michigan Aviation Academy started out in a small room on the airport with 60 students, or so, and now has a much larger building where it schools over 600 students.
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