On Her Way Out, Board Member Says Partnership Needs Big Changes

By on January 28, 2019

From St. Louis Business Journal:  Citing time constraints, Regional Business Council CEO Kathy Osborn said she doesn’t want another term on the board of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, which lost its leader this month amid scandal.

Osborn, who was serving on an expired term, said the organization, responsible for economic development in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, needs to change. In a Jan. 17 letter obtained by the Business Journal, Osborn told County Executive Steve Stenger that since the organization’s founding, in 2013, “many things have changed and it is perhaps time to relook at the organization to determine how best the Partnership can function going forward and how it should interact with the separate County Boards that are also charged with economic development.”

She also said the County Council and Stenger need to clarify to the partnership’s board “to whom they are responsible….” Ex-employees have alleged that CEO Sheila Sweeney, who resigned this month when faced with termination, favored county sites over those in the city, and that she was a “puppet” of Stenger who took actions that benefited donors to his campaign.

Osborn wrote that interim CEO Rodney Crim should be allowed to do a “top to bottom review” of the partnership’s staffing and compensation. Sweeney took home total compensation of $500,000 in fiscal 2017. “That’s a very big number for a head of an economic development organization. I don’t know of many in the country who approach that,” ex-partnership CEO Denny Coleman said in an interview Thursday.

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