Kathy Osborn, St. Louis Regional Business Council

Kathy Osborn

A Voice for St. Louis

Editors’ Note

Kathy Osborn is active in many diverse organizations within the St. Louis community, including Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, United Way of Greater St. Louis, St. Louis Symphony, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Forest Park Forever, the St. Louis Police Foundation, the St. Louis Airport Commission, and the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. In addition, she has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lindenwood University and the St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women designation. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Organization Brief

In 2000, the St. Louis Regional Business Council (stlrbc.org; RBC) was launched with 50 mid-cap business executives. This coalition was and continues to be essential to enhancing the well-being and vitality of the region. Today, the RBC is composed of 100 CEOs representing some of the region’s largest employers. These companies have a tremendous impact on the economic health of the region, employing more than 120,000 people and generating more than $65 billion in revenue annually.

Will you talk about the history of the St. Louis Regional Business Council and how you define its mission?

The St. Louis Regional Business Council was started 16 years ago. St. Louis has many large companies with between 600 and 1,200 employees headquartered that didn’t have a voice to address what was going on in the community. Today, we comprise 100 CEOs of large companies, and we act on high-impact civic, business, and philanthropic efforts for the betterment of the region.

Are there specific issues and topics you focus on?

We have five areas of focus. One is promoting business-friendly public policy, in particular, policies that improve the overall quality of life here. This includes education reform policy or infrastructure policy, for example, that involve partnering with the public sector.

Another focus is education reform, where we have invested in things like Teach for America and local charter schools, to support opportunities for all children.

Talent development is also important. We work with 15 different colleges and universities, particularly business and engineering schools. We want a school system that is diverse and professional.

Seven years ago, a number of our new members wanted better business, civic, and philanthropic connections so we developed the Young Professionals Network. Membership now includes 3,500 people of color who we bring together because we want them to remain and thrive in St. Louis.

With education, we’ve realized college is expensive, and we don’t put enough emphasis on post-secondary jobs in the trades, IT, or manufacturing. If the president at all lives up to his statements about wanting to increase manufacturing in this country, we have a problem because we don’t have trained people in the pipeline. We want to do something about that in St. Louis.

Diversity and inclusion is the fifth area, and this is about making St. Louis a globally diverse city.

It’s all about quality to life. We give approximately $13 million every year to United Way of Greater St. Louis. We’re very active in Social Venture Partners, which builds capacity in nonprofits, and we have a fund called It’s Our Region that invests in small nonprofits and tackles their infrastructure needs.

Within these areas, we make determinations about the key things that need to be done and how we can get those things done together.