Dick DeVos has always had an eye for good business opportunities, and he has also been able to recognize many potential disasters before they took place. One of these mishaps almost occurred during the early 1990s when the city of Grand Rapids was considering building a convention center and arena that would serve multiple purposes. While the idea struck many people as a good one, DeVos was able to recognize its many negatives because he had seen something similar take place in Detroit many years back.
It was during the 1970s that Detroit had decided to build the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills. While this could have been a good thing for the city, it went downhill after the Pistons and Lions left Detroit. DeVos had been around to witness the financial devastation that took place after the arena sat empty, and he knew he couldn’t let the same thing happen to Grand Rapids.
Dick DeVos decided that he would put together a lobbying group to fight the building of the arena and convention center. He also created a group of business leaders that would go on to do great things for Grand Rapids. This group is known as Grand Action, and the city can thank it for the construction of an arena, performance hall, the Grand Rapids City Market, and a medical school that functions out of Michigan State University.
In recent years, Dick DeVos has also desired to see Grand Rapids become a hub for business people from all over the world. He made the move to contact the chief executive officer of AirTran years ago in order to convince him to increase the airline’s offerings at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The call was a successful one, and DeVos had another chance to improve the airport just months later when Southwest bought out AirTran.
Before Dick DeVos gave it a shot, many other community leaders had failed in the past to convince Southwest to offer service in West Michigan. Instead of asking the airline company to stay, DeVos proposed that it expand its services in the state of Michigan. While Southwest began to cut services down in other areas, it did no reduce its services at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. In fact, the airline company added new flights to different cities and began to run non-stop flights out of the airport.
Dick DeVos was born in Grand Rapids in 1955 and has accomplished a lot during his life as a businessman. He took over as the CEO of Amway and served in that capacity from 1993 to 2002. He also ran to serve as Michigan’s governor, but, unfortunately, lost to the incumbent. DeVos is a partial owner of the Orlando Magic and received his bachelor’s degree in business administration while attending Northwood University.
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