Dick Devos is among the few individuals who take credit for ensuring that Grand Rapids has a sports arena within the central business district. In 1991, an idea was floated and suggested that a multipurpose sports and convention arena be built. The sad part was that the proposed stadium was outside the central business district. It became evident that the city would lose a very much needed facility to a location outside the city. With that in mind, Dick Devos, who at the time was being groomed to become the CEO of Away Corp, began championing against the idea.
As it had happened to Detroit after the construction of the Pontiac Silverdome outside the city, he was not ready to let the same plan ruin his home city. The development of Pontiac Silverdome and the Palace of Auburn Hills outside Detroit made the Lions and Pistons to leave the city. As a result, the town was left with no sporting facility and teams.
Dick Devos campaign resulted to the formation of a group (Grand Action) comprised of business leaders who ensured that the Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids City Market, Devos Place Convention Center, and the Michigan State University’s medical school found a place in the central business district. The institutions and destinations have since changed the town’s skyline.
Dick and his wife Betsy Devos have devoted much of their lives work to philanthropy. Their political giving has influenced the creation of laws aimed at improving the education and labor markets. Betsy Devos have successfully managed to advance the expansion of charter schools. On the other hand, Dick has enabled the city of Michigan to pivot from birthplace of organized labor to a place where any individual can work without necessarily having any union membership status.
Besides their political giving, information made public shows that they have donated over $138.7 million to leadership programs, institutions that support art and culture, churches and policy initiative programs that seek to improve education, and health. In their hometown, they made a donation of $12.5 million that spearheaded the construction of Helen Devos hospital for children. The hospital serves the city’s population, and parents no-longer have to worry about travels while seeking medical care for their children.
With all their contributions, they still push for education advancements with Betsy Devos taking the lead. The main agenda is to ensure that children from financially disadvantaged families get equal educational opportunities as the others. Her commitment to the education sector saw President Donald Trump appoint her as the U.S Secretary of Education.
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