Dick Devos: Businessman and Philanthropist

Dick DeVos worked his way to the top of his family business by effort, experience, and trials and error. Like many keen observers in Michigan, he noticed the leading City of Detroit and its deteriorating urban core. He also saw that Detroit had used its resources to build sports arenas on cheaper land outside of the city. The famous football and NBA franchises seemed to suffer from their playing venues that were remote to the City and many residents. Dick DeVos observed the situation and took a valuable lesson about opportunity.


– The Grand Rapids Miracle

1991 was a Pivotal year in the recent history of Grand Rapids Michigan. Local leaders were engaged in developing plans for a multipurpose sports arena and convention destination. The plans were significant for developing Grand Rapids into a more significant economic role in the Western Michigan region. Dick DeVos remembered the Detroit experience and the lost opportunity to enhance the city. He formed a group of local business leaders that formed and advanced a plan to locate the arena and convention destination in the heart of the City. His group proposed to revitalize downtown Grand Rapids with a dynamic development hub.


– A Growth Cycle

The influential group that Dick DeVos formed and led demonstrated the short and long-term benefits of locating the new construction downtown. In short order, the new sports hub flowered into a new economic center for Grand Rapids and Western Michigan. The new center became the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Place Convention Center, the DeVos Performance Hall, the Grand Rapids City Market and a branch of the Michigan State University medical school.


-Building Michigan

Dick DeVos has had a visible impact in Michigan. He has made an impact in politics, business, philanthropy, and education. Mr. DeVos ran for Governor and advocated conservative principles and fundamental changes to labor laws. He has translated his love for flying into a role as a member of the FAA Advisory Board where he and other experts help shape national air transportation policies.


– Charter Schools

He and his wife Betsy DeVos have advocated charter education. He established the West Michigan Aviation Academy as a charter school that offers flight training at its home at Ford International Airport. The academy is a unique school. His aviation curriculum represents career and life-expanding opportunity for children of all ages and economic levels in Western Michigan.


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