Dick DeVos is, if you had no other word for him, a reformer. Much like his wife Betsy DeVos, the newly minted Secretary of Education, Dick Devos has spent the majority of his life working to change the landscape of his home state for the good of the people inside of it. Dick DeVos is probably most well known for being the CEO of Amway but he has also worked hard in order to establish himself as someone who cares about changing the state of Michigan. Let’s take a closer look at Dick DeVos’ history and what he has done in order to bring change to the state of Michigan.
If you were to go back in time to 1991 in order to listen in on the business hubbub flowing through Grand Rapids, MI then you would likely hear Dick DeVos’ name come up. In the early ’90s, there was a conceptual multi-purpose sports arena and convention center that was gaining steam as a potential project for the city. Dick DeVos was one of the first major business owners to raise a hand in objection. The reason? Detroit had been ravaged by abandoned sports centers, as evidenced by the Pontiac Silverdome and the Palace of Auburn Hills — hope to the Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons, respectively. DeVos saw how these abandoned convention centers could turn into an absolute millstone around the necks of a city, hamstringing budgets while punishing citizens with raised taxes.
In order to combat the rising idea of the convention center, DeVos teamed up with a group of forward-thinking business leaders under the title ‘Grand Action‘. The group would fight off the convention center before turning their focus on supporting businesses that would actually improve the quality of life within their city while essentially transforming the entire Grand Rapids skyline. Among the different projects that the Grand Action coalition would bring to fruition would be Michigan State University’s own medical school, the Grand Rapids City Market and even the DeVos Place Convention Center. Their work would be integral to helping revitalize a city that had seen hard times due to a number of different economic issues.
Outside of Grand Rapids, Dick DeVos would become something of a state-level player in the political scene. He would attempt to run for governor before ultimately falling back and realizing change as a private citizen. Dick and Betsy DeVos would become icons of the school choice movement and in doing so they would become icons of the conservative movement, helping to engineer a real message for Republicans and right-wing politicians to rally around in the realm of education. Dick and Betsy would also help to engineer a transformation in Michigan’s worker situation, shifting from a Union-led state to one that is completely right-to-work and bereft of the power vacuum that labor unions so commonly manage to coalesce around. These kind of changes only mark the beginning of the work Dick and Betsy DeVos have been able to do and we are sure that there is much more to come in the future.
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