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The Revitalization of Grand Rapids Under Dick DeVos’ Leadership

Dick DeVos has always been known as a team player. In April 1991, he was not happy about decisions that others in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, community were trying to make to place a new arena in the downtown area. He had seen what had happened in two nearby communities when teams left the area after downtown arenas were built for them. Never a man to rest, he quickly assembled a team of 50 West Michigan community leaders to examine what possibilities could be created in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The original committee was known as Grand Vision. The committee became known as Grand Action a short two years later. The results of those meetings have been astonishing as the city continues to blossom and more than 250 people are now involved with the organization. They work tirelessly to rehabilitate dilapidated downtown buildings into thriving businesses.


Grand Rapids City Market


One of the outgrowths of those early meetings organized by Dick DeVos is Grand Rapids City Market. If you visit this 138,000-square-foot facility you will see that it is a hub of activity. You can buy many products from the 22 indoor market vendors, dine at the two full-service restaurants or participate in the monthly outdoor events and hands-on cooking classes. There is also a wonderful spot to host private meetings or a wedding.


Grand Rapids Civic Theatre & School of Theatre Arts


The fifth largest volunteer community theater company in the United States is the Grand Rapids Civic Theater & School of Theatre Arts. The facility housed in three historic buildings in the city was definitely started to show its age before Grand Action helped them renovate the Meijer Majestic Theatre. The group produces nine main shows each year to the delight of people living in Grand Rapids and beyond.


Van Andel Arena


Grand Action has also been instrumental in seeing the 10,834-seat multi-purpose Van Andel Arena constructed. While many originally wanted this facility built downtown, its present location on the edge of town was proposed by Dick DeVos. It is home to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League that is owned by DeVos’s brother. The arena also hosts numerous concerts every year from top entertainers who seldom perform in a small community like Grand Rapids.


DeVos Place


The DeVos Place is a 234,000 square-foot convention center that was named after Dick’s father who gave $20 million in initial funding. It is attached to the 2,404-seat DeVos Performance Hall that was renovated in 2004 when the DeVos Place was constructed. It is also attached to the Civic Auditorium. A skywalk makes it easy to move from the DeVos Place to the Van Andel Arena.


Dick credits his father for creating the generous man that he has become. He has given away more than $139 million in his lifetime, and the giving is very likely to continue. He strongly believes that people who are given much need to help people who are given very little be successful in life. Learn more: