Dick DeVos has been one of the quintessential businessman for Amway for the past thirty years. It started in the 1980s when he worked as the Vice President and led record-breaking global sales for the company. However, in the 1990s, DeVos started to work more with other businesses in Grand Rapids, which was his hometown. He had grown up there, and he would eventually live there with his wife Betsy DeVos, the 11th US Secretary of Education, and their children.
Throughout the 1990s, DeVos worked with business leaders to improve the growth of Grand Rapids. He wanted to avoid some of the problems that had been facing Michigan during that time tdue to the pullout of manufacturing and auto industries. West Michigan was heavily benefited by the DeVos Family Foundation, which donated upwards of $139 million.
In addition, DeVos joined groups like Grand Action, which was led by local business leaders. He wanted to help these leaders create more commerce in downtown. The areas had been abandoned, but DeVos saw more opportunities if they were able to attract a bigger audience. He started by using funding from DeVos Family Foundation to build charitable areas, like the DeVos Performance Hall. Then, he worked with the group to create the DeVos Place Convention Center.
Both of these businesses were located in the central part of downtown, which was key to bringing business back to the small city. However, that wasn’t the end of DeVos’ plan. Many people wonder why DeVos is so close to the Federal Aviation Administration and multiple airlines. It’s because of his work with Amway, but it’s also because of the way he put the Grapid Rapids international airport on the map.
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport was revamped in 1999. However, the airport continued to have abysmal sales. It wasn’t until DeVos stepped in during the 2000s that the airport finally saw some growth. This was in part due to DeVos working with airlines at the airport and getting them to add more destinations. These flights would become the basis for the growth for the next two decades, leading the airport to do nearly 3.26 million in traveler numbers in 2018.
However, most people will look at DeVos for his work with philanthropy. He has donated a large portion of his wealth to educational opportunities, while also working towards providing healthcare and cultural outlets in West Michigan. In addition, he co-founded a school with his wife Betsy DeVos called the West Michigan Aviation Academy. This school would train pilots right on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
DeVos will continue to meet with the FAA throughout 2019 and into 2020. His work with the council has led to certain budgets and makeovers of select airports, such as the new $40 million GSO Tower.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.