For those who live in Western Michigan, the DeVos family name is pretty famous. This family has changed many things about Grand Rapids, including its downturn economy. In the 1990s, the city was experiencing a lack of business growth. Many businesses were actually leaving the area, and it was up to the city planners to try and bring interest back to the business district.
However, their plans were off the mark. Dick DeVos was shown many plans for the city during the early 1990s. He actually walked away from his position at Amway to change things for the better in Grand Rapids. He started by rebuilding downtown and helping with several construction projects. In fact, the DeVos Family Foundation has given over $139 million, and much of that has gone towards schools and cultural arts in western Michigan.
In addition, Dick DeVos developed a growth strategy to bring Grand Rapids out of its slump. He started by building the DeVos Place Convention Center. He saw that the town could become a conference destination, akin to areas like Orlando and St. Louis. He wanted to put Grand Rapids on the map for business owners. While he started by building a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art convention center, he also connected with the nearby airport to solidify the strategy.
He would eventually work with airline executives at the nearby airport to open up new flights and destinations. Ticket sales instantly boomed, and the airport began to win awards. In fact, the airport is now known as one of the top airports in America, especially for business travelers.
While Richard DeVos passed away in 2018, he was commended by many, including former president George W. Bush who said that the man was a motivator and optimist who helped his local community. Those characteristics have passed down to his son Dick DeVos, who has consistently worked with city leaders to improve Grand Rapids and lead its economy to greater heights.
When he was appointed to the Management Advisory Council by the Federal Aviation Administration, DeVos gladly accepted. He received praise from many in the aviation community but particularly from the CEO of Southwest Airlines, who had worked with DeVos as part of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport renovation.
Now he meets with the council every quarter, discussing plans for new growth in relation to airports. His knowledge is legendary, as many believe that he is the one who saved the airport from bankruptcy. The airport’s turnaround is remarkable. In just a few decades, it was able to become a multi-million dollar property.
Western Michigan has seen a lot of help from the DeVos family, and Dick DeVos continues to lead the way. He recently moved the headquarters of his business to Grand Rapids as well.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.