Dick Devos: Working for Grand Rapids

Dick Devos is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His family has been quite prominent in the community. Mr. Devos’ father was the founder of the famous Amway Corporation, and Dick Devos would work for the family firm for several years before becoming the company’s CEO in the 1990s.

 

From his earliest days as an important business owner and executive in Grand Rapids, Dick Devos has worked to build up the city and see it move successfully into the future. He has done this through his helping to attract business and development and through his philanthropic endeavors.

 

One of Mr. Devos’ first successes in helping the Grand Rapids community was in renovating the downtown area. In the early 1990s, there was a plan to build an arena and convention center north of the downtown area in Grand Rapids. Mr. Devos knew that this would be a blow to the downtown area and potential development of that area. Mr. Devos organized a group of local business leaders who were successful in bringing the arena to downtown Grand Rapids. Dick Devos was also instrumental in bringing a medical school, a convention center and a performing arts center to the downtown vicinity.

 

Dick Devos also helped the city of Grand Rapids through the reinvigoration of the city’s international airport. Gerald R. Ford International Airport was not performing up to the level that Mr. Devos knew that it could. There just weren’t enough flights going in and out of the airport.

 

AirTran Airways was a smaller carrier based in Florida that Mr. Devos believed that he could convince to start flying in and out of Grand Rapids. Mr. Devos used his connection as part owner of the Orlando Magic to get a meeting with the folks at AirTran. They would ultimately start serving the Grand Rapids airport.

 

AirTran was eventually purchased by Southwest Airlines. Mr. Devos was able to convince Southwest to not just keep the current service in Grand Rapids. He convinced them to add additional flights out of the city.

 

Grand Rapids has also benefited from the philanthropic endeavors of Dick Devos and his wife Betsy. They provided a substantial gift that allowed a children’s wing to be added to one of the major medical centers in Grand Rapids.

 

The Devos’ also invest heavily in education. Mr. Devos helped create and fund an aviation themed charter school. This charter school is located at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport that Dick Devos helped to make what it is today.

 

To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.

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