Philanthropist

Dick DeVos

Since the 1990s, Dick and Betsy DeVos have worked tirelessly to lift up their community and state of Michigan. Their work in education, medicine, and performing arts offered incredible growth to the area.

 

Dick DeVos was recently tapped to work with the Federal Aviation Administration on new policies and growth ideas, particularly for airports. This has to be attributed to the strategy that DeVos used to build up Grand Rapids and save the nearby airport, which is now an award-winning international airport location with an aviation school.

 

In the 1990s, DeVos switched away from being the Vice President of Global Sales at Amway to working with business leaders and local city planners in Grand Rapids. He saw opportunities to turn the recession around in his hometown just by working with the group Grand Action. Together, these leaders created new buildings in the downtown area to support new commerce and growth.

 

DeVos worked with these leaders to construct a new performing arts building, convention center, and sports arena. The convention center would play an even bigger role later on when DeVos partnered with the CEO of the local airport.

 

While Grand Rapids had an airport since the early 1900s, it had fallen into disrepair and had dropped in ticket sales. However, Devos made one phone call to AirTran Airways and spoke to the CEO. He asked if the airline would open up new destinations, including Las Vegas and Orlando.

 

Dick DeVos believed that if he built a business traveler’s paradise, these business leaders from all over would come to Grand Rapids for the convention center and advanced airport. The new ticket sales from AirTran Airways immediately helped the airport recover and soon, the Gateway Transformation Project launched a makeover for the airport that would encompass business traveler needs and more.

 

The new airport has won awards for its convenience, smart security options, new food court area, and advanced technology.