Dick Devos – Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

For those who love to follow the DeVos family, you’ll have known that Richard DeVos, co-founder of Amway, died in 2018. His son Dick DeVos has been leading the way for the family ever since. As a business entrepreneur and owner of the Windcrest Group, he is also the husband to the US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Together, the couple have worked hard to help the area of west Michigan, particularly their hometown of Grand Rapids through charity and business planning.

 

In the 1990s, Grand Rapids was falling apart. The state was having major financial issues because of fallout from the factories and plants leaving for cheaper labor. It was clear that much of the state was headed for an economic fallout. Grand Rapids was experiencing this on a larger scale as many businesses began shutting down in the downtown center. This led to complaints from business leaders, and DeVos decided to leave his position at Amway in order to help.

 

He began to work with this business leaders and developed a strategy that would bring in more people to the region. While it was never stated that he had this strategy, it’s clear that he went through step-by-step to implement a tactical recovery for the area of Grand Rapids via his business connections and charity work.

 

The DeVos Family Foundation donated over $139 million to the area, allowing for new buildings in the downtown area such as the DeVos Place Convention Center. This particular facility would be integral to the overall plan, where DeVos would bring in business travelers to the area through the international airport.

 

However, he had to build the area first. Together, Grand Action also built the Andel Arena and the DeVos Performance Hall. These buildings along with the convention center were the main catalysts for new business activity in downtown. However, DeVos had something else in mind, too. He wanted to work with the airport to bring in more travelers. His plan would revolve around conferences and conventions, hoping to attract business owners and large corporations who wanted to have a low-cost conference.

 

Grand Rapids has seen grown into a rapidly evolved metropolis in western Michigan. In addition, the airport had expanded several times and just celebrated its 3 millionth passenger. The airport barely had 10,000 in ticket sales per year before that. While it’s clear to many in aviation that DeVos is a business guru, he has remained humble and private about what he wants to do next. He is currently working with the FAA on several projects and offering his advice on how to renovate airport technology.

 

As a member of the Management Advisory Council for the FAA, DeVos has been working with the group to improve the aviation industry overall. He will continue to meet with the council for the next year.

 

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