For most people, the growth of their city over time is an impersonal thing. Buildings come up and then down, the economy grows and then tumbles, and all along the only thing that they can do is watch. This isn’t the truth for Dick DeVos, a prominent GOP supporter and former Republican candidate for governor. Dick DeVos, alongside his wife and U.S. Secretary of State Betsy DeVos, have been mainstays in Michigan’s political scene for the better part of the past thirty years. Their staunch support of reformation for the educational system has made them into mainstream conservative mouthpieces for reform on a broader level. However, if you are just now learning about Dick and Betsy DeVos then you have missed out on a ton of their history. Specifically, we are talking about how Dick DeVos and a group of prominent business leaders helped to lead Grand Rapids toward prominence over the past 27 years.
The year was 1991 and rumors around the business offices of Grand Rapids were all focused on one idea: a new convention center was slated to be built downtown. Convention centers are typically inconsistent in terms of results for taxpayers and local businesses. The best conventions centers, like Madison Square Garden, can become iconic pieces of property that turn cities into destinations. The worst convention centers, or the most typical, end up becoming giant tax burdens on residents and business owners alike. Dick DeVos saw firsthand what had happened in Detroit when the Pistons and Lions abanded their convention centers and he knew that Grand Rapids couldn’t survive the same process.
So, in order to push back against this supposed convention center, Dick DeVos formed the Grand Action group. The Grand Action group was a committee made up of the most prominent and proactive business leaders in all of Grand Rapids. They formed in order to protest the convention center while also directing attention and energy toward reformation in Grand Rapids that would leave a lasting impression on current residents and future residents alike. Their work would be formative in the erection of the Grand Rapids skyline that we are familiar with today. From medical school facilities to massive open markets, the Grand Action group played a vital role in facilitating growth in the city of Grand Rapids. Now, Dick DeVos is looking to maintain that crystal clear view of the future of his city through continued good work.
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