Dick DeVos Saved A Potential Economic Disaster From Striking Grand Rapids, Michigan – But How?

Dick DeVos, best known as the husband of Betsy DeVos, the current United States Secretary of Education, is the former CEO of Amway and heir to the company’s co-founder, Richard DeVos. Mr. DeVos ran for public office in 2006, losing a close race to the incumbent Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. Dick DeVos has done many things throughout his career, and the 63-year-old looks young enough to do it all over again.


Although he’s technically retired, Mr. DeVos belongs to the board of directors of several businesses and organizations. He spends most of his time tending to philanthropic endeavors and supporting his wife.


Let’s take a trip back in time


Back in 1991, a group of investors openly shared a plan to create an indoor arena just north of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. While arenas draw professional sports teams, concerts played by world-renowned acts, and popular conventions, all of which are great economic activities for the cities they’re located in, they take up a lot of room.


If those arenas don’t frequently draw crowds ranging in the tens of thousands of participants, they effectively become massive wastes of space.


With the memories of the Detroit Lions leaving the Pontiac Silverdome and the Detroit Pistons running away from the Palace of Auburn Hills in the 1970s, Dick DeVos knew he needed to lobby against the development of the arena investors wanted to bring to Grand Rapids.


Even though he was preoccupied with business at Amway, Dick found time to lobby against the investors and maintain stellar performance at his father’s company.


Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me


Dick DeVos was quoted as saying, “that lesson was not lost on us,” referring to the two Detroit-based professional sports franchises leaving their respective stadiums in Detroit. He wondered so often how experienced businesspeople like those investors could forget about such a recent happening.


The longtime businessman found success in his endeavors to prevent the construction of that arena, efforts that indirectly formed Grand Action.


Grand Action is a super troupe of business leaders from across the state of Michigan that built structures including the medical school at Michigan State University, the Grand Rapids City Market, and the Van Andel Arena.


All of these structures, not to mention the dozens of others Grand Action is responsible for, are still put to good use in 2019.


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