While most people know Richard Devos, the founder of Amway, and the Devos family, they may not have realized how many were working in government. The 11th and newest US Education Secretary Betsy Devos was appointed in 2016, and her husband was recently appointed to the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA put together the council after it was challenged by President Trump to be more innovative. Now the FAA is putting together new policies, regulations, and budgets that will help create more growth in America’s aviation industry.
So why Devos? For one, his business acumen led to the $45 million expansion of Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. In addition, he has run for governor in past in Michigan, and he has been a firm supporter of aviation education. He co-founded an aviation academy in Grand Rapids with his wife Betsy Devos. Under his leadership, he helped form Grand Action in the 1990s. This committee was responsible for much of the growth in downtown that would raise the city up to new heights and contribute to job growth exponentially.
In 1990, Devos had just come off of working as the Vice President at Amway, leading their global sales to record-breaking heights. Now he wanted to focus his attention helping his hometown. He saw several opportunities being floated, including plans for a sports arena and convention center, but it was away from the downtown business epicenter. Devos had seen what that can do to a city as he had witnessed the collapse of Detroit after the teams left the Pontiac SilverDome.
So, he worked with business leaders to create several points of interest around the central business district. This would include the Devos Performing Arts Center as well as a convention center. The new buildings drove further growth downtown, but Devos wasn’t done just yet. Overall, the Devos Family Foundation contributed over $134 million to projects in education, arts, cultural centers, health organizations, and business growth.
Devos has always liked philanthropy and entrepreneurship. It was one of the reasons that he decided to co-found an aviation academy on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, and it would eventually be why he had more interest in growing the airport. He saw opportunities to expand the airport and make it into a business traveler’s dream destination. It started with one phone call to the CEO of AirTran Airways. Devos asked AirTran if the company would open up new flights. The CEO agreed, and new destinations were added to Orlando, St. Louis, Denver, and Vegas. All of these locations were prime destinations for business travelers.
After two decades, the airport was approved for a $45 million expansion that combined the efforts of Devos and many airlines at the airport. The expansion will be completed in 2018 and will add a new business traveler center and food court area to the airport grounds.
Read http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.