When Dick DeVos heard of a plan that was being considered to construct a multi-purpose sports and convention arena just north of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, he begin to lobby against it immediately. It was his experience with the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills, which had been bad for Detroit’s downtown area after the city’s sports teams left, that motivated him to do so. He helped to put together the Grand Action group, which is a gathering of business leaders that helped to build the Grand Rapids City Market, Van Andel Arena, and other popular centers and buildings.
Dick DeVos has spent a good part of his adult life working to bring change to certain policies and institutions, and his influence in the political arena has led to some large modifications of state laws related to labor and education. It was his hard work that led to the engineering of a 2012 law that changed Michigan into a state that no longer requires workers to be part of a union. Dick DeVos also helped to startup The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, which has donated over $138 million to culture and art programs, human services, healthcare, churches, and programs that teach leadership. His wife, Betsy, and himself also donated $12.5 million towards the building of the children’s hospital inside of the Spectrum Health System.
Making changes to the educational system has always been one of Dick DeVos’s main points of focus. Not only did he startup an aviation charter school, but he also has been a part of helping poor families to have the same choices that his kids did. While a lot of the initiatives and ideas of Dick DeVos have not always been met with enthusiasm, he has never given up on pursuing what he believes in. Even after he lost a race against Jennifer Granholm to be the governor of Michigan, he continues to stay involved in the kind of politics that he thinks can lead to the changes he desires to see in the United States.
Dick DeVos is a businessman, entrepreneur, and author who grew up in Michigan and served as the CEO of Amway for close to a decade. Some years back, he convinced AirTran Airways to run flights out of Grand Rapids, Michigan from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. AirTran was eventually acquired by Southwest, and Dick DeVos had to work hard to convince the airline company to keep its schedule of nonstop flights at the airport in Grand Rapids. Not only did Southwest oblige, they added more direct flights to Orlando, Baltimore, Denver, and St. Louis. This was and continues to be a great thing for the city of Grand Rapids, and Dick DeVos couldn’t be happier; especially with his history as a pilot.
Dick DeVos is also a continuing part of a joint effort with his wife to reform the educational system by allowing vouchers to pay for private school for children. He believes that this will put the choice of where to send kids to school in the hands of their parents rather than the state.
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