When 1991 came around the corner, a plan was set in place to construct a convention arena to the northern part of downtown Grand Rapids. At the time, Dick DeVos put himself on the path of acquiring the CEO’s job at his family company Amway Corp. He picked up the phone and began on the war trail against this idea because he worried how the new stadium might have a severe negative impact. You could probably compare it to Detroit when they chose to construct the Pontiac Silverdome, which led to the Lions and the Pistons leaving the city in the ’70s.
DeVos talked about how this lesson never left him. Dick DeVos was the CEO of Amway for nine years between 1993 and 2002. When DeVos started this campaign, it had a huge impact on sports facilities, which they built outside the downtown area, which was the heart of the business area. In fact, it even led to a powerful group known as Grand Action. This collection of affluent business leaders in the Grand Rapids area became the driving force that soon constructed the DeVos Performance Hall, the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Place Convention Center.
All of these destinations have been given the credit for transforming the city skyline into something that’s a little more impressive. This is the trajectory that has turned into a breathtaking urban sprawl. Betsy DeVos and Dick DeVos both were the heirs to powerful fortunes within the family, and they have spent a large part of their adult existence trying to influence the local policies and changing the institutions. The DeVos family has always been known for their mega philanthropical efforts, and they are also seen as one of the big players in donating to the GOP. Their donations have gone on to have an impact on things that have an impact on everything from labor to education to state laws.
A couple good examples of this power couple’s influence and how they had had an impact is how Betsy DeVos made a dedicated push to expand the charter schools in Grand Rapids. Meanwhile, Dick DeVos helped to design a law that came into effect in 2012. That Michigan law was that union membership was no longer part of the conditions related to employment. At one time, however, Michigan had been the birthplace of organized labor, but then it was transformed again to the loss of it.
The DeVos’s have extended their influence above and beyond politics for the GOP. In fact, they reported having given over a hundred million dollars away to the arts, leadership programs, churches and policies that center themselves around education. They also gave away scholarships to help struggling families send gifted children to a good private school. Throughout their time in Grand Rapids, the DeVos’s have always played a big role in education reform around Michigan. In fact, the DeVos’s were even behind the founding of the aviation charter school. Education has always been one of the most important issues to the DeVos’s, and you can see it in almost everything that they do.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.