In 1991, billionaire Dick DeVos boycotted plans to build a multi-purpose arena in downtown Grand Rapids. It didn’t take much for him to garner support, and the plans were scrapped.
DeVos was a rising star in Michigan. He was on the cusp of becoming the CEO of Amway, his father’s successful multi-billion dollar corporation. In DeVos’s estimation, the multipurpose arena was not the type of attention needed for the area. He and other business leaders felt that lining the skyline with DeVos properties would be a better use of time and money.
DeVos succeeded in getting his way. Instead of sports arenas, the area welcomed Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids City Market, Michigan State Medical school, and The DeVos Place Convention Center.
DeVos is also the husband of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Both come from super-wealthy conservative families who wield a great deal of power within the state. The pair have spent a great deal of money and time attempting to influence laws regarding labor and education.
Education is very important to DeVos. He is a huge charter school advocate. “I firmly believe that all children should have the benefit of a good education, regardless of race or socioeconomic level.”
DeVos’s very own West Michigan Aviation Charter School was built in 2010. The tuition-free school emphasizes aviation and engineering. The school currently has 600 students.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation has spend millions of dollars to fund the charter school. The school offers a number of scholarships, and public lotteries are held every year if applications exceed admission levels.
After serving as CEO of Amway, he took over as CEO of the family-owned Orlando Magic basketball team. In 2004, he started his own company the Windcrest Group.
In 2006, DeVos decided to delve into the political arena. He ran on the Republican ticket to unseat incumbent Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Although he put up a tough fight, he lost by 9 percentage points. Although the outcome was not what DeVos predicted, he says he is proud of what he accomplished.
DeVos says he still has much more work to do to help his state become the example that all other states follow.
Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.