Dick DeVos is changing the face of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The billionaire CEO and entrepreneur has spend a great deal of his vast fortune putting his money where his mouth is.
In 1991, after a group came forward to push for a downtown sporting arena, DeVos used his power and influence to thwart those efforts. His reasoning — to keep downtown Grand Rapids from deteriorating like Downtown Detroit did after the Pontiac Silverdome and the Palace were vacated.
After the sporting arena was nixed, several business leaders came forward with the idea to build other skyline improving properties like the DeVos Place Convention Center, DeVos Performance Hall and Michigan State’s medical school.
As an heir of great wealth, DeVos has used some of his massive wealth to change policy and influence state laws regarding labor and education.
While his wife Betsy DeVos, newly appointed Sec. of Education, has pushed for the expansion of charter schools he continued to work on changing Detroit to a right-to-work state. Very ironic, since the city is well-known for being the birthplace of unionization.
DeVos’ foray into education is something that has brought a lot of good to the state. For years, the DeVos family has been on the forefront of school choice. It is their philosophy that all children are entitled to an excellent education regardless of socioeconomic background.
The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation has given nearly $140 million to a number of initiatives including the arts, education, human services and churches. He also spearheaded the construction of a children’s hospital named in honor of his mother Helen DeVos.
The children’s hospital — Spectrum Health System — is a god send to locals who have sick children. It saves them from having to make the long drive to Ann Arbor and Chicago to receive care.
While DeVos and his wife have tried hard at getting Michiganders on board with educational reforms, not all have agreed.
Their 2000 attempt for a constitutional amendment to create a school voucher program fell flat. But even though they lost in their state, they were able to get programs in others. DeVos and his wife pushed the voucher strategy and now 24 states have it in some form.
DeVos also unsuccessfully ran to unseat Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006.
He says he may run for office again one day. But right now, he’s concentrating on other ways to better his stat. Learn more: http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/12/01/michigan-parole-reform/94075318/