Many years ago, back in 1991, there was word of a plan going around town that a knew multi-purpose building was being built in the Grand Rapids area. One man, in particular, was not happy about hearing this. Dick DeVos was a man on the fast track to the top of his family’s Amway company at the time. However, he could not just sit around and let this new project for a convention and sports arena be built. He knew it could be detrimental to the city. He stopped what he was doing and started to pick up the phone and make some calls.
Both Dick and his wife Betsy are big time Republicans who have spent much of each of their respective fortunes on supporting what they believe in. Both are big into education and have started their own charter school at an old airport. They also started the first voucher program to offer kids in the area, and then later on around the country, the chance to afford going to school wherever they want regardless of their parents’ income.
Unfortunately, Dick and Betsy’s efforts and money spent haven’t always swayed public opinion in their favor. It hasn’t broken their spirit, though. They are both too passionate about their beliefs to give up. Mrs DeVos’ passion for school advocacy is one of the main reasons why the president decided to appoint her the country’s Secretary for Education. She was, however, only narrowly appointed because there was a heated debate going on about the impact of voucher schools compared to public school systems.
Dick Works Towards Putting Grand Rapids On The Map
Many years ago, Dick had called up the CEO of the AirTran Airways. He did this with the sole purpose of trying to work with him to bring the airlines to the Grand Rapids airport as a way to give it a boost. This one phone call is what started the process of putting the Grand Rapids airport on the map.
Mr. DeVos was able to get through to the CEO much faster than anyone else is able to. He says that a big reason for this is that his family owns the Orlando Magic basketball team and they play just down the road from the AirTran Airways headquarters in Florida.
His hopes for putting the Grand Rapids airport on the map grew quicker than he had anticipated because just months after AirTran Airways began offering services there, the carrier was then bought out by Southwest. This was the same airlines that Dick was first tasked with trying to bring to the Grand Rapids airport. His next hurdle after this was to try and convince Southwest to keep nonstop flights from the Grand Rapids airport to the Baltimore and Orlando airports. In the summertime of 2013, the airlines began adding direct airline flights to Baltimore, St. Louis, Denver and Orlando. Both of the DeVos’ had a reason for wanting the change to be successful. It is the home of their family’s Amway hangars.
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