The year 1991 brought about a new plan that began to float around publicly about a new multi-purpose convention and sports center just to the north of downtown Grand Rapids. At the time of the new plan, Dick DeVos was on the path toward becoming the new CEO of his family’s company, Amway Corp. When he heard of the plans, he started calling around and lobbying against the entire idea.
His worry was simply that the new convention center plan would be a detrimental move for downtown Grand Rapids just like the Pontiac Silverdome had been when the Lions and the Pistons both left the city of Detroit. DeVos and his wife never forgot that incident, which is what started his campaign, to begin with.
During his fight against the new building plan, DeVos helped create the Grand Action, which is a group of various business leaders who helped push the construction of the Michigan State University’s medical school facility, the Grand Rapids City Market, the Van Andel Arena, and the DeVos Place Convention Center to say the least.
Both Dick DeVos along his loving wife Betsy are heirs to their families’ fortunes. They have even spent most of their grown up lives trying to change various policies and institutions that do not meet their final goals. Their political influence, since they are GOP mega-donors, has helped change a great deal in both education and labor state laws.
Betsy, particularly, has been successful in the expansion of several charter school programs, and Dick DeVos has been working behind the scenes to help change the state of Michigan to a right-to-work state that no longer requires union membership for employment.
The DeVos influence has also extended well beyond the reaches of Republican politics and various conservative causes. Just in the past several years, the DeVos Family Foundation, ran by Dick and Betsy DeVos has been giving away at least $138 million to various programs like leadership, arts, culture, health, church, and various human service programs.
Just in Grand Rapids, the couple has been reported to give at least $12 million in donations toward a children’s hospital’s construction, to be named for Dick DeVos’ mother, Helen. The hospital has been a way to help families who are suffering avoid the long drive to the Mayo Clinic or other hospitals around the area.
However, their biggest topic to date is the education reform projects that Betsy has taken on with her husband by her side. While Betsy has been working hard from her position as the U.S. Secretary of Education, her husband has been working hard elsewhere, making it to the top of the civilian panel that oversees the Federal Aviation Administration.
Dick DeVos has also played a huge role in the redesign of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, helping bring it back to life in a way. He has been credited for helping lower the fares of travel through the airport and even bringing in more traffic resulting in passenger growth. His work as an aviation pilot has helped both with own goals and his wife’s as well. Learn more: http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about