Almost three decades ago, a plan to build a multi-purpose sports and convention arena was crafted. The facility was set for construction in the north of the downtown area. The then executive at Amway Corp, Dick Devos, began lobbying against the idea. From his point of view, the plan would have detrimental effects on downtown Grand Rapids. He had witnessed the adverse effects such a project had on Detroit after Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills got constructed outside the city. His campaign against the plan saw a group of business leaders come together and form the Grand Action. The team would become the force behind the construction of the city market, Michigan State University and other centers in the central business district.
The construction of those facilities has helped in changing the Grand Rapids skyline. Dick and Betsy Devos have spent most of their lives trying to change the institutions in their hometown. Their political influence and wealth have in most cases, contributed to the enactment of laws affecting the education and labor sectors in the city. While Betsy championed for advancement in the education sector with the expansion of charter schools, Dick Devos was fighting to convert Michigan from a birthplace organized labor to a free labor market state. However, their influence and contributions extend beyond the Republican politics. In three decades, the couple has contributed an estimated $138.7 million towards charitable activities including the promotion of culture, advancing health and human services, education, and leadership programs among many others.
They contributed to the construction of a $103 million children’s hospital in Grand Rapids. The hospital aims at researching on children medical issues with the aim of decreasing mortality. The hospital was named after their mother, Hellen Devos. As a result, the hospital allows children to seek medical services closer to home. On the other hand, parents no longer have to travel miles to find medical attention for their children. One of the major initiatives of the Devos family is in the education sector. Dick Devos has developed an aviation high school for students with interest in aviation programs. According to Betsy, they aim at having children from financially challenged homes receive the same opportunities as those from wealthy backgrounds. Their work has a fair share of challenges. However, they have held on, and today, over 24 states have voucher programs in their private schools. Today, Betsy Devos is the U.S Secretary of Education.
Recently, the Amway scion has received an appointment to the civilian panel aimed at overseeing the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington D.C. Dick is a long time pilot. He becomes part of a seven additional team announced by the transport secretary. The 13 member team is tasked with long-range planning and charting the course of the agency. Dick Devos operates his firm, The Windquest Group. The company is a holding institution for several enterprises. He has played a significant role in the development of Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Accomplishments achieved through a group of business leaders have seen the rates of flying go down and consequently, spurring passenger growth. Learn more: https://www.crunchbase.com/person/dick-devos