Grand Rapids, Michigan is a lovely city that has been gifted with a man who cares deeply about its future. That man is Dick DeVos, and he has been working to improve the city he calls home for countless years. In 2010, he helped to create the West Michigan Aviation Academy, which now serves more than 600 students. The school started out with just 80 students who huddled together in an office space in the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Today, there is a raffle held every year because admission to the school is now greatly sought after.
Dick DeVos is also the man responsible for the thriving Gerald R. International Airport. Years ago, he decided to make a phone call to the chief executive officer of Air Tran in order to convince him to run nonstop flights out of the airport. An agreement was made, but Air Tran was sold to Southwest just some months later. DeVos had his work cut out for him, but would not give up. He appealed to Southwest by telling them that he didn’t believe the airline company should just remain in Grand Rapids but that it should increase the number of flights offered there. Southwest cut back its services in many airports after this, but not at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
Dick DeVos has also been a large part of the reason why many of the buildings in Grand Rapids have been built. Michigan State University’s medical school, Van Andel Arena, and the DeVos Performance Hall were all constructed thanks to Grand Action. This group of important business leaders from the city was put together during a time when DeVos was working to solve another problem. That problem had to do with an arena and convention center that was being proposed to be built north of Grand Rapid’s downtown area.
The plan had been revealed to the public, but Dick DeVos knew that it was a bad idea before others did. The reason for his point of view had to do with his experience. DeVos had been around when a similar idea had been detrimental to the city of Detroit. The city had built a large sports arena only to see the Lions and Pistons leave the city afterwards. Instead of twiddling his thumbs, hoping for others to recognize the danger of building the new convention center and arena in Grand Rapids, he ended up being the man to help the city he loves once again.
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