How Dick DeVos saved a city

Grand Rapids is Michigan’s second-largest city. Founded in the mid 1830s, it is also one of Michigan’s oldest continually inhabited locations. But like many other Michigan cities, as well as those located throughout the region of industrial decline known as the Rust Belt, Grand Rapids began to experience a period of urban decay throughout the 70s and 80s. This culminated in the late 1980s, when the city was on the verge of going the same direction as towns such as Detroit, Flint and Muskegon.

 

But one man, Dick DeVos, scion of the DeVos family, decided that he was not going to allow Grand Rapids to decline in the same way as other Michigan cities. DeVos believed that West Michigan had a unique supply of human capital, including a highly educated and talented employment base, with one of the strongest work ethics anywhere in the state.

 

Along with a number of other prominent business leaders in the city, DeVos convoked the first meeting of what would become known as Grand Action Group, a group dedicated to the revitalization of the downtown Grand Rapids area.

 

By the mid-1980s, Grand Rapids had been suffering from decades of urban neglect. Vast swathes of the city were crumbling. 100-year-old buildings that were no longer structurally sound made up a large portion of the city’s real estate stock. Grand Rapids was quickly going the way of both Flint and Detroit, with the productive sector of the population having long since before abandoned the urban core of the city. DeVos set out to change all of that.

 

First, the DeVos family acquired the historic Pantlind Hotel, creating one of Michigan’s first five-star hotels and building a 30-story glass tower that gave the modern Grand Rapids skyline its distinct, sleek look. DeVos also initiated development on the DeVos place convention center, one of the largest such facilities in the state and a driver of a huge amount of convention business to the city.

 

DeVos was also instrumental in the building of a large arena, which would eventually see a minor league hockey team as well as a brief 10 year for a semi-pro basketball team. The arena, named after DeVos’ business partner, has been a major source of economic revitalization for the downtown Grand Rapids area.

 

DeVos was also heavily involved in the creation of what’s known as the medical mile, an approximately mile long stretch of Michigan Street, which has turned Grand Rapids into one of the premier medical cities in the entire country.

 

Through these efforts, DeVos has almost single-handedly turned Grand Rapids around from its ineluctable trajectory towards urban collapse. The results could not be clearer. Today, Grand Rapids is one of the premier cities in which to live, work and visit in the Midwestern United States.

Betsy DeVos Philanthropic Opportunities

For the past 30 years, Betsy DeVos has worked to provide opportunities for children and for people who do not have the resources that are required to be able to make their lives better. From vouchers for private schools to arts immersion programs, Betsy DeVos has been working to make things better for people and to make their lives much better depending on the different situations that they are in. DeVos has been working hard for the majority of her career to make things better and to provide opportunities for different people. She is a charitable person who believes that everyone should have the same type of opportunity. Her belief in the education system and the ability to make it better is something that has allowed her the chance to be able to do more and to try more with the system. She has created many programs that are directly related to people -especially children- having a better life. Read more about their foundation at dbdvfoundation.org.

As early as 1993, Devos was working at opening charter schools for children who were not suited for public school but still wanted to have the best education possible. She worked to make sure that they were able to get the education that they needed through charter schools and this gave them a great sense of accomplishment. She did all of this while the idea of charter schools was still new and still something that not many people were interested in. This allowed her to make the right decisions and to create more opportunities.

The charity foundation that she created in combination with her husband has helped more people than many other basic charities. While the largest sector of the organization is aimed at helping children get the best education possible, they also work to make things like leadership and communities better than what they have been in the past. It has been a really beneficial charity and has allowed people to learn the different things that they can about the opportunities that they have. Some even found things that they would not have known about otherwise. It has allowed them to create better lives for themselves.

Betsy DeVos does not just participate in philanthropic opportunities on her own. Instead, she and her husband have worked to build up the charity that they created. While they were doing that, they often got their whole family involved in the activities that they were doing. Because they have such a strong sense of philanthropy within their family, helping others out is something that they have all come to know and love. The majority of the time, the family works together to help others out who are less fortunate through the work of the foundation.

Learn more: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/01/31/512507538/under-devos-heres-how-school-choice-might-work