Ever since 2017, Dick DeVos has been involved with the Federal Aviation Administration. His wife was appointed to the 11th office of the US Education Secretary in the same year. Together, they have been working in Washington. Through philanthropy and education fundraising, the DeVos family has become a political force, but what are their objectives?
Dick DeVos comes from a family of entrepreneurs and business leaders. His father was Richard DeVos, the legendary co-founder of Amway Arenas, who passed away in 2018. Amway is one of the top companies in the world thanks to its sports arena franchise. DeVos learned quickly how to become a business leader from his father, and he has continuously shown that he is quite skilled at negotiation, collaboration, and finding opportunities.
His work with the Grand Rapids airport is a prime example of why he is such a business and political mastermind. His work started within the Grand Rapids business community in the early 1990s. He simply wanted to raise his hometown out of the economic crisis that was sweeping across Michigan at the time. The state had suffered severe setbacks due to the upheaval and removal of several factories. Western Michigan had been one of the hardest areas hit in the state.
However, DeVos had a plan to change all of that, and he worked with business leaders in the city to ensure that the plan would work. He built several areas around the business district to bring people back to the center of the city. This would include the DeVos Place Convention Center, which was instrumental in the next phase of DeVos’ plan.
DeVos began to work closely with the CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. While it had been a small airport until recently, there had always been bigger aspirations for the airport. While it enjoyed a prime location in west Michigan, it didn’t have the ticket sales to compete with some of the larger airports nearby. DeVos began to talk with the executive team at AirTran Airways. It’s rumored that he made one phone call and asked for the CEO to open up flight destinations at the Grand Rapids location in order to boost ticket sales for his strategy.
DeVos saw that the airport could bring in business travelers, which would be a win-win as he wanted the city to become more of a business powerhouse. That was why he had built the convention center so close to the center of the city in the first place. These new destinations were approved, and once in place, ticket sales skyrocketed at the airport. In fact, the airport just surpassed 3.26 million passengers in 2018.
Today the airport is booming, and now DeVos has proof of his business traveler strategy that he can share with the new FAA council.
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