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Without Dick Devos Downtown Grand Rapids Could Look Very Different

When Dick DeVos sets about to do something, it gets done. When he heard about the combination sports arena and contention center that was being considered for north of downtown Grand Rapids, DeVos was reminded of what happened to Detroit’s downtown when it lost an arena. DeVos knew that having the multi-purpose facility in the heart of the business district would benefit downtown businesses. He and like-minded individuals formed Grand Action, which ended up bringing the DeVos Place Convention Center, Van Andel Arena, Michigan State University’s medical school and other destinations to downtown Grand Rapids. After DeVos and other business leaders came together, downtown Grand Rapids gained civic gardens, an art museum and a sculpture park thanks to their efforts.


DeVos didn’t stop with downtown Grand Rapids. In 2006, he decided that the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids’ airport, needed improving. DeVos talked low-cost carrier, AirTran, now Southwest Airlines, into running flights out of the airport. With the additional revenue, the airport began upgrades to enhance traveler’s experiences while at the airport. A jet and helicopter pilot himself, DeVos wanted the airport to succeed. The Federal Aviation Administration, who placed DeVos on their Management Advisory Council for a standard three-year term, recognized his efforts. DeVos organized the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan, which shows businesses how the airport contributes to West Michigan’s economy.


DeVos, like his wife, Betsy, believes in giving parents the option of sending their children to charter schools, He started his own charter school at the Grand Rapids’ airport where he houses his collection of airplanes. Since 2010, the aviation-focused West Michigan Aviation Academy has served high school students who are interested in working in the aviation industry one day.


A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, DeVos is the eldest son of Richard Marvin DeVos, co-founder of Amway. Today, DeVos is retired and focusing more on the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation. The foundation supports two of DeVos’ interests, the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan and the West Michigan Aviation Academy, along with schools, universities, free-market economic organizations and more.


While DeVos has worked his way up the corporate ladder at Amway and was CEO of the Orlando Magic basketball team for several years, his only job in retirement is at The Windquest Group. The Windquest Group is a private investment group that DeVos started with his wife. The group focuses on clean technologies.


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