Open Arms – The St. Louis Mosaic Project encourages international diversity for regional growth

The St. Louis Mosaic Project began its research in 2012 with an economic impact report outlining St. Louis to be lagging in immigrant growth, as well as highlighting the economic benefits of increasing its foreign-born population. The Mosaic Project is a regional initiative that is professionally managed by St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, World Trade Center St. Louis and a 27-member committee.

The organization became operational in 2013 with the hiring of Executive Director Betsy Cohen. An exchange student in high school, Cohen was always interested in international activities. In her tenure at Nestlé Purina, she was vice president of marketing and worked on both international business opportunities and ran a local regional coalition. “I’ve always been involved with different nonprofits and businesses – I think of myself as a connector,” Cohen said.

Tell us about your background.


My family came from Europe in 1848 to St. Louis from Germany and Czechoslovakia. While I was born in Chicago, I lived in many cities growing up and moved back to St. Louis when I was in elementary school. My family hosted international people when I was growing up, and I was also an exchange student in high school. I went east for college, earned my MBA, got married and lived in Baltimore. My husband and I later moved to St. Louis where we’ve been since.

After a long career at Nestlé Purina, I was searching for an opportunity where my skills would be needed in the region. At the same time, the Mosaic steering committee had been formed. I was told about the new position, which was essentially a marketing initiative to encourage international people of all skills to come to St. Louis. It appealed to my sense of regional pride and my interest in international people.


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