Dick DeVos doesn’t like urban sprawl. That’s why when Grand Rapids leaders floated an idea to build a sports and convention center north of downtown, Dick DeVos made plans to keep the venture in the city limits. At the time, DeVos was moving up the corporate ladder on his way to CEO of Amway Corporation. However, DeVos put that aside to start convincing community leaders that a downtown venue was the way to go.
If you asked Devos, he would say that he saw what happened when Detroit built major entertainment venues outside of their downtown area. He didn’t want Grand Rapids to suffer a similar fate. DeVos said that Detroit was a telltale “lesson,” and he wanted better for his City of Grand Rapids.
DeVos organized his informal lobbying group with the name Grand Action. The group was made up of local business leaders who wanted to see Grand Rapids entertainment stay in Grand Rapids. The group is responsible for the development of much of the Grand Rapids skyline including DeVos Place, DeVos Performance Hall, Van Andel Arena and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Because of their efforts, Grand Rapids has seen a renaissance. Old factories have been converted to apartments and condominiums, and more young people than ever are making downtown a destination. The City of Grand Rapids has followed suit making Rosa Parks Circle the hub of downtown activity.
The DeVos family didn’t just stop with business development as a way to improve the city. Rick DeVos, son of Dick DeVos is the founder of Art Prize, an art competition held semi-annually in Grand Rapids. Artists from around the world partner with businesses to display their work throughout the City of Grand Rapids. Visitors can see the art for free and vote on their favorites. Artists can win prizes based on the community vote as well as based on juried decisions from art experts.
While many wealthy families send their children to expensive boarding schools, Dick DeVos decided local was best for his own family. His children attended nearby Grand Rapids Christian High School. The school attracts local Christian families from a variety of economic backgrounds throughout the city. The DeVos family is also a donor and supporter of Potter’s House, a charter school for families of all incomes in the Grand Rapids area. DeVos and his wife Betsy Devos say that it’s their goal to make quality education available to families of all economic backgrounds.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.