Dick DeVos is a billionaire, pilot, and public figure who follows his heart when it comes to doing business. His negotiating skills have helped the city of Grand Rapids on multiple occasions, and he continues to improve the city in many different ways. It was DeVos who convinced Southwest to run nonstop flights out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. To top it off, he did so at a time when the airline company was considering slowing down its services or moving out of the city, altogether.
Dick DeVos is not a newcomer to understanding the details of what can or can’t benefit a city. In 1991, there was a plan being introduced to the public that would see a multi-use sports and convention arena constructed north of the city’s downtown. DeVos was working towards serving Amway as its chief executive officer at the time but knew he had to get on the phone in order to shut down the bad idea he was hearing about.
Dick DeVos was concerned that the construction of the arena and convention center would be a bad thing for the downtown area of his city. The same kind of thing had wrecked Detroit in the 1970s after the city built the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills. There was nothing wrong with the Silverdome, but it became very problematic after the Lions and Pistons vacated Detroit later. His lobbying efforts eventually led to the creation of a group of business leaders known as Grand Action. The group has been able to improve the city by advocating for the construction of many different buildings that have benefited the city ever since.
Dick DeVos has spent a lot of his life using his wealth and influence to change policies and the educational system of the U.S.A. He was responsible for the laws that turned Michigan into a state where people can work without joining a union. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, which he co-founded, has donated millions of dollars to support human services, culture, the arts, churches, and educational reform. Together, Dick and Betsy donated $12.5 million, which went towards building the children’s hospital in the Spectrum Health System.
As a pilot, Dick DeVos has also created The West Michigan Aviation Academy, which is a public school that allows students to focus on their aviation dreams. The school is located on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, and it now has more than 600 students, after starting out with 80. Some of the school’s students ride multiple buses to attend everyday, and there is a lottery held each year that helps to decide the next lucky student who will get a chance to pursue their dreams.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.