Sweeney out as leader of St. Louis Economic Development Partnership; Rodney Crim named interim CEO

By on January 4, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  After weeks of speculation, the board of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership announced Friday that CEO Sheila Sweeney is leaving the Partnership. Rodney Crim, president of the Partnership, was named interim CEO.

Sweeney’s departure follows Post-Dispatch investigations into low staff morale and high turnover at the Partnership, the agency’s procurement practices and the awarding of contracts to campaign donors of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who several former employees say essentially ran the office through Sweeney.

And it comes on the heels of moves by the St. Louis County Council to rein in oversight of the agency and fund it only in quarterly allotments, forcing it to submit to council inquiries in order to receive its annual $4.1 million county appropriation.

“Our board has determined that a new direction is necessary to fulfill our mission of building this region’s economic engine,” Karlos Ramirez, Chairman of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership board, said in a statement. “We are proud that our organization is one of the first combined efforts of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, and are committed to ensuring it can focus on our mission in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

If pressure on Sweeney had been brewing at the board, it was mostly behind the scenes. The county executive has been mostly silent on Sweeney’s performance and appoints 11 of the 15 Partnership board members. One of them is his chief of policy, Jeff Wagener, and the other is his chief of staff, Bill Miller. The other four members are appointed by the St. Louis mayor.

Crim formerly led the St. Louis Development Corporation and moved to Clayton as part of the Partnership’s creation.

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