Dick DeVos has started his political climb with his latest appointment to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Advisory Council. This is a new board of 13 members that presides over policies, regulations, budgets, and future plans as it relates to the American aviation industry.
You may be wondering how former President of Amway and a savvy businessman was able to garner such a seat. Does he even work in aviation? Those are valid questions, but the truth is that DeVos has been in the aviation industry for many years as a successful business owner, philanthropist, and educator.
DeVos worked with city laders in the early 1990s to help create a better economy for Grand Rapids. At the time, there was a lot of conjecture about the city’s future. Detroit was losing most of its economy as factories went elsewhere, and the city had paid for a new sports multiplex to support the Detroit Lions, which would move elsewhere the following year.
With those things in mind, DeVos wanted to create economic opportunities that would support longstanding growth for the city. He turned his eyes towards a favorite pasttime of his to do so. That was aviation.
DeVos has always been an avid pilot. He owns and pilots several crafts including jet planes and helicopters. His work in the aviation industry has been largely private however. Since the early 2000s, he has been working with CEOs of aviation businesses to bring opportunities to the Gerald R. Ford airport.
For example, he worked with Air Tran’s CEO in the early 2000s to bring more terminals to the airport. He also worked with Southwest CEO to keep terminals and add on new ones. All of this helped contribute to the makeover over the airport, which will be completed in 2018. The airport will receive a new food court, upgrades to terminals, and new technology. The upgrades were a necessary part of keeping the newer terminals that DeVos fought hard to print to Grand Rapids.
DeVos is also no stranger to aviation beginnings. He formed a charter school to help teach students about becoming a pilot and working with engineers at Gerald R. Ford airport to educate students. While just a small charter school, it is one of the projects that DeVos is deeply involved in.
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation has done a lot of work for the communities in Michigan, but none more than for Grand Rapids. While DeVos did run for governor in 2006, he has maintained a low profile and has worked on charitable projects as well as growth within Grand Rapids. He also has his own projects through his company.
As he now sits on the FAA’s council, he will be working with members every quarter to discuss different policy changes and advantageous moves for the American aviation industry.
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