Have you seen the news in Washington? There’s a new DeVos working in the political arena. As US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sweeps the country, her husband will now join the Management Advisory Council for the Federal Aviation Administration. DeVos has been working in the aviation industry for some time. However, most of his work has gone overshadowed by his leadership at Amway and The Windquest Group. Nevertheless, DeVos has played a major role in the expansion of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport for many years.
In the 1990s, DeVos was just starting to bring businesses together in his hometown of Grand Rapids. He helped to form the committee Grand Action, which was responsible for a number of buildings in the early growth of the city. There were also plans that came across DeVos’ desk that he would not follow through with, including a sports complex and convention center. The issue was that the plans placed the two buildings far away from the city’s business center in downtown. It wasn’t going to help with jobs or rapidly expanding the city, like DeVos had hoped.
The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation was formed to help with projects that would bring about better opportunities for Grand Rapids residents and contribute to the commerce in downtown. There were also plans to build an airport. In the late 1990s, the new airport had launched. However, it was not exactly booming with passengers. There were some changes that needed to be made and more flights that needed to be added for it to truly be an international airport.
DeVos worked with Air Tran Airways’ CEO in order to get in new traffic. He started by talking to the CEO about terminals and expanding the current offerings to get in more passengers. The plan worked. New flights were added to St. Louis, Vegas, Denver, and Orlando. Over time, those terminals were challenged by the takeover of Southwest in the early 2000s. DeVos talked to the CEO of Southwest at the time to see if a deal could be made to keep certain terminals. The airline was shuttering multiple terminals in other airports. However, the airline never shuttered any of the terminals or flights at the Grand Rapids location.
DeVos is just one of the people on the council with previous aviation experience. There are also transportation and airline executives who will be joining him in advising the council on what to do. With his business acumen, he has been able to help the Gerald R. Ford Airport receive $45 million in funding for new renovations. These insights into the airport’s expansion and working with airlines will prove vital to the policies and regulations that the FAA is looking to update in the next year.
To learn more, visit http://www.dbdvfoundation.org/.