Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy are not only very wealthy, they are also enormously influential in the political and economic sphere as well. They are known to be especially prominent in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area as well as in the state of Michigan in general. Both of them are also influential at the national stage as well. Here are just some of the things they have helped to pass through and achieve in their hometown, state, and national level.
Back in 1991, the city of Grand Rapids had a plan to construct an arena and convention center located outside the downtown area. Dick DeVos lead the charge against the plan, which he believed would decimate downtown Grand Rapids and lead to its ruin. When the city of Detroit lost major sports teams such as the Detroit Lions and Pistons because of suburban developments outside, it quickly sent out alarms to other cities of the consequences such developments could have on a downtown area. Detroit had suffered heavily when the Palace and Silverdome were constructed in suburbs of Detroit.
To fight against the suburban convention center and sports arena, Dick DeVos helped create Grand Action. This was a council of leading businessman, politicians and community stakeholders that helped to construct brand new arenas, shopping centers, and schools right in downtown Grand Rapids. Grand Action had been responsible for the creation of a convention center, performing arts center, a city market, and a multi-purpose arena. The group also led the effort to construct Michigan State University’s medical school in Grand Rapids.
It was not easy, but they managed to save downtown Grand Rapids from the fate of cities such as Detroit. Grand Action led by Dick DeVos also helped change the skyline of the city and turned it into a city with significant attractions. They had managed to stop the suburban sprawl. Two of the buildings that Dick DeVos and his wife helped fund bear their names. They are the DeVos Place Convention Center and the DeVos Performance Hall which is a concert hall.
Outside of Grand Rapids, the DeVoses have had great success in effecting change at the state level. Dick DeVos helped spearhead a campaign to turn the state of Michigan into a right to work state. This means that membership in a labor union is no longer required to be hired for a job. Dick DeVos achieved this victory in 2012. It was a major event because Michigan was one of the founding places of the organized labor movement.
Dick DeVos’s wife Betsy is famous for being a strong advocate of school choice and vouchers for low-income families. She has helped push school choice and voucher programs all across the country. Her husband Dick DeVos is also an educational reformer in a way. In addition to supporting his wife’s efforts, Dick DeVos helped create an aviation focused high school at Grand Rapids International Airport. Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy also donated money for the construction of a children’s hospital that allows parents to stay in Grand Rapids. It was named in honor of Dick DeVos’s mother.
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