Dick DeVos attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He decided early in his career to focus his efforts on building the City of Grand Rapids for generations to come. He wanted major entertainment venues serving the area to stay in Grand Rapids instead of near Grand Rapids. He thought that moving entertainment venues out of the city limits would only result in major events taking place away from downtown.
To keep the action in the city limits, DeVos put his family’s money and influence behind an effort to keep an entertainment venue from moving in north of the city. Instead, DeVos successfully lobbied to install the venue in downtown Grand Rapids. Van Andel Arena opened soon after.
The arena began the revitalization of the area. The Thomas M. Cooley School of Law soon moved in down the street. Bands, exercise groups and even swing dancers frequent nearby Rosa Parks Circle.
To DeVos, it has all gone according to plan. The family has spent more than $138 million to give grants to all kinds of civic and educational groups in the area. Among their efforts is an aviation-themed charter school that’s housed at the Grand Rapids Ford International Airport. The charter school is a college preparatory high school program.
In addition to the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos family has been central to other Grand Rapids development projects. DeVos’ eldest son, Rick DeVos, is the founder and leader of Art Prize, the largest public art competition in the world. Art Prize brings artwork to local businesses throughout the greater Grand Rapids area. Visitors from the public can vote on their favorite pieces. There are both popular and juried awards. The competition brings an economic boom to Grand Rapids businesses each fall.
Other projects that the DeVos family has put their time and treasure into include DeVos Place and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. DeVos Place is a concert and entertainment venue. It hosts the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Fifth Third River Bank Run and the Grand Rapids Auto Show. DeVos Place is located across the street from Grand Rapids City Hall. Patrons can park in the city parking lot underneath city hall.
The Helen DeVos Children’s Center was one of the early additions to what the locals call the Grand Rapids Medical Mile. Michigan State University followed suit by moving their medical school to the same area. The medical school sits across the street from Grand Rapids’ main post office branch. Sitting on the same corner is DeVos Place.
With the election of Donald Trump, the DeVos family profile has shifted into national politics. Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. DeVos’ confirmation was anything but certain. She faced tough questions and harsh critics who questioned her lack of experience as an educator.
In the end, the Senate chose to confirm DeVos. Betsy DeVos’ tenure as Secretary of Education has included canceling an Obama-era policy regarding transgendered students. She also announced a national investigation into Michigan State University’s handling of complaints regarding Larry Nassar.
To learn more, visit http://dickdevos.com.