If you’ve lived or worked in Grand Rapids, MI for any measure of time than you are likely intimately familiar with the DeVos family name. Dick and Betsy DeVos are two of the most prominent citizens in the state of Michigan and they have made it their personal mission to help reform Grand Rapids and the rest of the state into a booming destination for people all throughout the country. Dick DeVos is heir to the Amway fortune and a former nominee for governor on the Republican ticket. While his wife Betsy DeVos is currently stealing headlines as the newest Secretary of Education for the United States government, Dick DeVos continues to build on the foundation he has laid in the state of Michigan.
If you went back in time to 1991, you would see a Grand Rapids that is very different than what we have today. Gone is the skyline, the bustling downtime, and the booming business blocks. In its place is a more dawdling town, unsure of its own future. It was in ’91 that plans began to float around the city that a new spots convention center would be installed. Great news, right? Not exactly. Dick DeVos had seen what a forgotten convention center could do to a city and he was quick to reference the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit as an example, both convention centers abandoned by professional sports teams. Instead of bringing jobs and cash to the economy, they became public fixtures of wasted taxpayer money. DeVos says of the convention centers, “That lesson was not lost on us.”
Instead of getting behind the convention center installation, DeVos went the other way. He would go on to establish an organizational group built out of local business professionals. This group would become known as Grand Action, a committee of business leaders who wanted to reform Grand Rapids in a real and tangible way that also left room for growth in the future. This committee would go on to be the driving force behind the installation of the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Performance Hall, and the medical school at Michigan State University among many other projects. The work of the Grand Action committee would prove to be vital for the longterm growth of Grand Rapids and they would become the main instigators as to why the city is the way that it is today.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.