Dick DeVos & The Growth Of Grand Rapids

There are many powerful people in the world. Some make their money with little regard for others and their communities. Others are renowned for giving back and making things right. Dick DeVos uses his success in life to help steer things in the right direction. This is especially true when it comes to his hometown.


An example of this would be the 1991 proposal of a sports and convention center. The plan would’ve seen the center be constructed north of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. DeVos saw that history was about to repeat itself. The Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills became ghost towns once the Lions and Pistons made their exit from the city. The two venues just took up space for years and halted business as well as productivity in Grand Rapids.


Rather than sit by idly, DeVos began lobbying against the idea. While some would just lobby against the venue with no alternative solution, this wasn’t the case with DeVos. He formed Grand Action, which brought business leaders together to assist with the creation of Van Andel Arena and the DeVos Place Convention Center. In addition to this, the DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids City Market, and the medical school at Michigan State University were also formed.


DeVos has been a top mover and shaker for years. He is tasked with overseeing the Federal Aviation Administration as a top member of the civilian panel. Prior to the role, DeVos served as the president of Amway. Now, he’s the chief executive officer of The Windquest Group. DeVos also teamed with business leaders in an effort to convince Southwest Airlines to provide routes out of Grand Rapids airport. As a result of this, air fares were lowered and there was an increase in passenger growth.


Shaping the future for the next generation is crucial to keeping things intact for years to come. This certainly isn’t lost on DeVos. He opened the West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2010. At first, the school only had 80 students in an office space at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Now, the school has its own building with 600 students.


The West Michigan Aviation Academy is tuition-free and nonprofit. The school runs on an allowance per student from the state. Last year the allowance was about $7,500. Through 2014, DeVos and his wife Betsy provided $7 million and a no-interest loan of $3 million. Learn more:  http://www.celebfamily.com/business/richard-devos-family.html