In the 1990s, Dick DeVos was a budding business leader and soon-to-be Amway CEO. His tenacity as a business leader is what made him an incredible asset to the city of Grand Rapids. He looked for ways to help his hometown and state as often as he could, in some ways that were not at once comprehensible. For example, Grand Rapids was going through a lot of changes several years ago. These economic changes were changing the face of the city.
As a seasoned business leader, DeVos saw plans being floated to construct a large sports complex and convention center in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. After seeing the issues that Detroit faced in a post-construction financial crisis caused by the Pontiac Silverdome and sports teams leaving the city, DeVos saw other ways that the city could make incredible gains and increase its jobs without having to build mega multiplexes that did not benefit the city’s financial position.
DeVos saw another way that peaked his interest as a fan of aviation. Now, as he sits on the 13-member Federal Aviation Administration Advisory council, he can look at back at those strides he made for the Gerald R. Ford Airport as a way into Washington.
In the early 2000s, Air Tran Airways was looking for ways to expand. DeVos called up the CEO and asked about adding terminals to Grand Rapids airport. He saw opportunities to turn Grand Rapids into a real international airport with arriving flights from Canada into the United States and new flights added for Orlando, St. Louis, and Denver. It was an ambitious goal, especially to call the CEO of Air Tran. However, this worked, and DeVos immediately got more traffic for Grand Rapids. He did it again when Southwest purchased Air Tran Airways several years ago and even got the funds raised to expand the airport, leading to $45 billion in new upgrades and an entire new addition.
DeVos’ love of the aviation industry runs deep. Through the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, they have given over $184 million to different schools, charities, arts organizations, and health services. They have also created a charter school on the grounds of Gerald R. Ford airport that teaches students how to become pilots and aviation technicians. The experience has created incredible opportunities for Grand Rapids as a city and has made DeVos’ dream a little bit more realized.
As DeVos moves to Washington and joins his wife Betsy as she leads the nation in education reform, DeVos will be sitting with 12 other members on an advisory council that makes decisions on budgets, long-term planning, regulations, and policy changes.S Southwest’s CEO has already commended DeVos on the progress that he has made for the industry just by working for aviation businesses and providing a sound balance with his seasoned business experience. As the former Amway CEO, Dick has a lot to live up to in order to continue his cause to become a leader in aviation in the United States. Learn more: http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/12/01/michigan-parole-reform/94075318/