Hypothetical Question: What Would Grand Rapids Be Like Without the Influence of Dick DeVos?

There can be a lot of situations where many individuals feel like they are George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. They can wonder if their life has any meaning. Now, in that classic movie, the antagonist was Mr. Potter, a very wealthy man. However, in real life there are many examples where wealthy people are actually the good guys. Dick and Betsy DeVos exemplify this concept with the positive influence they have had in their hometown of Grand Rapids.


One of the first major examples of how the DeVos family would become a positive force for good within Grand Rapids was demonstrated as far back as 1991, when Dick DeVos was on the fast track to becoming CEO of Amway, the company that his father co-founded. It was during that year that there was a plan publicly floated to build a convention center in a town just outside of Grand Rapids. Dick and Betsy were well-aware of the negative that building a sports arena in a Detroit suburb had placed on their sister city, and the last thing they wanted was for the same thing to happen here. They were steely in their determination to not let the same thing happen within Grand Rapids.


To make a long story short, they were successful in their goal of preventing a sports convention city from being built in a suburb instead of in the Grand Rapids downtown area. Their efforts also led to the formation of Grand Action, which is a local political action committee that has been devoted to developing property within the Grand Rapids area and other important Michigan communities. It has led to the formation of the DeVos Place Convention Center, Van Andel Arena, the DeVos Performance Hall and Michigan State’s Medical School.


The fact that Dick and Betsy DeVos were able to significantly impact the economy of Grand Rapids is just one example of how they have spent their lives being political activists. Besides helping their local economy, Dick’s wife Betsy DeVos has also took up the mantle to fight for school choice in this country. As wealthy heirs, they realized that they had the option to send their children to only the best schools, and ones of their choosing. However, they wanted to see middle-class parents have the ability to do the same thing.


Thus, this is a shining example of how one political power couple has touched lives for good, and not for the bad. So, the short answer to this question is that Grand Rapids would likely be in a much-worse economic shape if it were not for the impact of Dick and Betsy DeVos.


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