Michigan billionaire philanthropist and entrepreneur Dick DeVos is a man who knows how to get what he wants. The former Amway CEO has never had any bones about speaking up if he sees something isn’t right. And that was the case for is beloved state back in 1991.
A little over 25 years ago, backers were floating around an idea to build a multi-purpose center and arena in downtown Grand Rapids. DeVos knew the idea was not good for the city, so he picked up the phone to express his concerns.
DeVos remembered what happened to the downtown area after the old Pontiac Silverdome and
Auburn arena were shut down when the Lions and Pistons left. DeVos wasn’t having it. Who could blame him.
After getting the support from Grand Action, a group of business leaders, the Grand Rapids skyline was transformed into something quite different. In short order, residents saw the building of the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Convention Center, and the Michigan State Medical School.
DeVos comes from a background of enormous wealth. He, along with his wife, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are worth many billions. (Her father is the late billionaire industrialist Edgar Prince).
In addition to changing the Michigan skyline, DeVos and his wife have spent and equal amount of time shaping and changing policy in the state. Both are huge proponents of school change. For years, the put a lot of money in charter schools and school choice.
DeVos is also the person who engineered the law that changed Michigan to a right-to-work state. Who would have every thought that the state, known as the birthplace of unions, would end up being a cancer to unions?
Despite what you may think of DeVos and his wife, you have to give credit when it’s due. The couple’s foundation put many millions toward the building of the new Spectrum Children’s Hospital. This helped a number of families with sick children by preventing them from having to drive the long distance to Ann Arbor.
But people still have their opinions on the DeVoses and their education reform platform. While the bill the sponsored in 2000 to have residents pay higher taxes for charter schools was shot down, they still managed to get support in surrounding states. Now 24 states have voucher programs.
Although he ran unsuccessfully to unseat Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006, people who know DeVos best say he may make another run for office in the near future.
Read http://dickdevos.com/news/ to learn more.