For decades, Dick DeVos has been hard at work putting the right pieces together for his hometown. Even back in 1991, DeVos was molding the future of Grand Rapids, Michigan. At the time, plans were underway to build a sports and convention arena north of downtown. DeVos lobbied against the plan due to fear of past consequences. In Detroit, the Pontiac Silverdome served as the home of the Detroit Lions. The Palace of Auburn Hills hosted home games for the Detroit Pistons. When both teams decided to go with new stadiums, the older venues became less appealing and generated significantly less money.
Through his lobbying, the Grand Action group was formed. The group pushed forward on construction of Van Andel Arena. They also played a crucial role in the construction of the DeVos Convention Center as well as the DeVos Performance Hall. The Grand Rapids City Market was also formed along with the Michigan State University’s medical school.
Back in Sept. 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced that DeVos is one of seven new members of the top civilian panel, which oversees the Federal Aviation Administration. DeVos’ experience and track record earned him the honor.
In 1993, DeVos became the CEO of Amway. His father, Richard DeVos founded the company along with the late Jay Van Andel. Dick DeVos held the position until 2002. At the time of his departure, sales of the company increased by 50 percent.
DeVos’ dedication to the state of Michigan also reaches schools. In 2010, DeVos started a public charter school after some positive words from his wife Betsy DeVos. It’s called the West Michigan Aviation Academy. The school didn’t have an ideal start. At first, it was located inside a small office space at General R. Ford International Airport. There were just 80 students.
Now, the West Michigan Aviation Academy has its own building with 600 students. The students come from seven countries. Throughout 2014, Dick and Betsy put $7 million into the school. As is the case with other Michigan charter schools or even traditional public schools, the West Michigan Aviation Academy is tuition-free. Learn more: http://www.newnetherlandinstitute.org/history-and-heritage/dutch_americans/richard-dick-devos-jr/