Did Dick DeVos Save Grand Rapids from a Depression?

Dick DeVos has worked with several airline officials on the expansion of the Gerald R. Ford International airport. Due to his work, he was recently invited to join the Management Advisory Council formed by the Federal Aviation Administration. As the FAA looks to expand and renovate many airports over the next few years, DeVos has been crucial in developing a strategy.


So how did this start?


In the early 1990s, DeVos was just coming out of working for his father’s company, Amway Arenas. At Amway, he led the company in record-breaking sales, but he saw a trend happening in his home state of Michigan. The state was seeing a recession as many of the manufacturers left to outsource in other countries instead of using American labor.


DeVos went to work locally with business leaders to help the area jump back. This included forming the Grand Action committee which worked with city planners to create a central point of interest in downtown Grand Rapids near the business district. The new buildings would include the DeVos Performance Hall, DeVos Place Convention Center, and Andel Arena.


In addition, DeVos wanted to develop a strategy to bring in new tourists and business leaders to the area. He decided to work with the local airport to achieve this. At the time, the airport was going through a name change and becoming the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.


DeVos called the CEO of AirTran Airways, which was one of the top airlines at the airport at the time. DeVos asked the airline to add on new destinations to Orlando, Las Vegas, Denver, and St. Louis. The CEO agreed after listening to DeVos’ strategy. He was going to put Grand Rapids on the map just by opening up the airport to new areas and a convention center.


The plan worked, and by 2018, not only had the airport expanded with a $45 million fund, but the airport was actually receiving over 3.26 million passengers per year. The airport wasn’t expected to hit 3 million passengers until 2020. The progress has been attributed to DeVos and the airlines that contributed to the renovation fund for the Gateway Transformation Project.


DeVos is now working with the FAA and the Management Advisory council to achieve similar results. The main goal is to help airports across America with new technology and smart features that will bring them into the new age. President Trump talked about this problem early on in his presidency, comparing America’s airports to foreign airports. At the time, he believed that America had fallen behind.


It’s clear that the airport problem is a major issue for the FAA. They have recently approved a $40 million renovation for the GSO Tower.


Visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/about to learn more.


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