Dick DeVos developed the Grand Action group, which united Grand Rapids business leaders that joined forces to build the DeVos Place Convention Center, the DeVos Performance Hall, the Grand Rapids City Market, the Michigan State University’s medical school, and the Van Andel Arena.
This only took place after Dick DeVos lobbied against the construction of a multi-purpose arena that was going to be built in the 1990’s, just north of the city. DeVos felt that it could have a similar result to Detroit when larger facilities were built out of the city, which resulted in the loss of business to the city in general.
Both Dick and his wife Betsy are supporters of Republican politics. As inheritors of 2 family fortunes, both have been working on improving Grand Rapids with projects and also in donating to churches, leadership programs, health and human services and other important goals. Over the last 28 years, the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has given away nearly 140 million in significant donations that are important to the healthy growth of Grand Rapids. Perhaps one of the couple’s most significant donations was $12.5 million destined to a children’s hospital named after Helen DeVos, Dick’s mother.
The DeVos couple has also had their participation in politics and legislation. Dick was able to change a law in Grand Rapids that no longer makes it a requirement to be in a labor union when employed. He also ran for governor but was not elected. On the other hand, Betsy was named U.S. Secretary of Education by President Donald Trump due to her involvement in education and the private school vouchers program, which is in practice in nearly half of the country.
Dick DeVos continues to be actively benefiting Grand Rapids through lobbying with corporations and collective business interests. He recently negotiated the maintained services of Southwest airlines at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. In addition, Southwest added more non-stop flights other parts of the country. This negotiation with Southwest has brought greater income to the airport, which will be able to complete upgrades and expansions in 2018. This increase in fights and revenues has been very important for the growth and development plans of Western Michigan. The DeVos family is expected to continue to make Grand Rapids a much better place to live and work.
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