For the philanthropist and business leader, Dick DeVos, the current status he has obtained as one of the most important donors in the Midwest has been hard-won. What sparked the current level of giving that has marked the lives of Dick and his wider family in the 21st-century can be traced back to the early-1990s. At that time, the Grand Rapids metropolitan area was in need of regeneration and many city officials backed the construction of a major sports and convention center to provide a spark to the local economy.
Dick DeVos was unsure about the future success of the planned convention center and pointed to the failure of the 1970s-constructed Pontiac Silverdome in nearby Detroit as a sign of the problems that lay ahead for Grand Rapids. The stadium had been abandoned by its football and baseball teams leading to a stunning turnaround of fortunes that added to the decades of economic decline in Michigan.
The announcement of the plans for the Grand Rapids Convention Center was quickly followed by Dick DeVos beginning a lobbying campaign designed to bring a change in the public’s perception of the planned construction project. Eventually, Dick DeVos won out and the plans for the convention center were scrapped. Instead of simply turning his back on the downtown Grand Rapids area, Dick DeVos stepped forward and became a leader n creating what became known as the “Grand Action” for the city. DeVos brought together a group of powerful business leaders who began working on a dedicated plan to bring success to the region over the next few decades.
Since the decision was made to abandon the planned sports complex and convention center in downtown Grand Rapids, Dick DeVos has been willing to provide his financial backing to build on his plans for the future of the city. Alongside a $12 million donation for the construction of a children’s medical center in Grand Rapids, the philanthropist has also pushed on with plans to create a smaller convention center and the Van Andel Arena. Alongside these construction projects came a building for the Michigan State University and a city market.
For the majority of philanthropists who are also running a successful business empire, the work done to turn Grand Rapids into a modern technology-centered city would be enough. However, Dick DeVos has been working alongside his wife, Betsy DeVos to create numerous education reform campaigns that have helped families around the nation to move forward with their plans for school choice. The success of the education reform work done by Dick and Betsy DeVos comes from within their own foundation that works to improve the lives of families in all areas of the U.S.
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