Roles Played By Dick and Betsy Devos in Shaping the ‘Face’ of Grand Rapids

The Face of Grand Rapids would look different were it not for the input of Dick and Betsy Devos and a group of business leaders. In 1991, a project plan that sought to develop the north of downtown Grand Rapids was designed. Were it to kick-start; it would mean that the multi-purpose convention arena in Grand Rapids would have changed the skyline of the North. However, efforts from Dick Devos and a group of business leaders saw the project relocated to the central business district, Grand Rapids. According to Devos, such a diversion would have had detrimental effects on the growth of the town. He had previously witnessed such a project get diverted from Detroit. After the Pontiac Silverdome and Palace of Auburn Hills had been relocated outside the city, Detroit faced a backlash especially when the Lions and Pistons left the town. The lesson was learned, and they would not have their city make such a mistake.


The campaign against the relocation of the sports facility brought together a group of business leaders and formed the Grand Action. Through the team, they helped the city to develop the Van Andel Arena, the Devos Place Convention Center, Michigan State University, and the city market among many other social centers. The destinations have contributed to shaping the current Grand Rapids skyline. Dick and Betsy Devos have spent much of their lives developing and changing the face of the Grand Rapids institutions. Through their political donations, they have been able to push agendas that affect the education and labor sectors. Betsy put more efforts in revolutionizing the education sector through the expansion of charter schools. On the other hand, Dick Devos engineered the 2012 law that saw the state change from birthplace of organized labor to a state where anybody can get employed.


The Devos influence goes beyond the Republican politics. They are known for supporting several charitable works across the state. In 2006, they pioneered the construction of the $103 million children hospital. It would be named after Hellen Devos, their mother, and husband to the co-founder of Amway. The hospital benefits children and parents from the state as they need not seek health facilities elsewhere. Additionally, much effort has gone towards promoting education. Betsy Devos has been on the frontline in this cause. According to her, education should level out the field between wealthy and financially disadvantaged children. As a result, she strives to ensure that children from needy families receive equal opportunities as those from affluent families. Her commitment to advancing the education sector contributed to her appointment as the U.S Secretary of Education.


Dick Devos continues to help change the face of Grand Rapids by offering advice and financial help. Lately, he called the CEO of AirTran Airways and wooed him to come through for Grand Rapids Airport. The call ended with a date for the two to discuss matters related to Gerald R. Ford International Airport. After they met in Grand Rapids, a decision to operate nonstop flights from the airport was reached. Learn more: