Q&A with Melissa Frank, Senior Economic Development Executive
Melissa Frank is a senior economic development executive for FirstEnergy, serving the Ohio Edison service territory from the Mahoning Valley down to Springfield, Ohio. As an Ohio native and long-time FirstEnergy employee, Melissa is passionate about her role in helping businesses establish or expand operations within this growing service area.
Learn more about Melissa in the Q&A below.
You’ve spent your entire professional career at FirstEnergy. Tell us about your history with the company.
I started my career with Ohio Edison in the Call Center after graduating from Ohio State University. My mother worked for the company at the time, and I was very aware that working for a utility like Ohio Edison would present many opportunities to further my career down the road.
During the year and a half I worked in the Call Center, I gained knowledge about many parts of our business, and made connections across the company.
After serving in various sales roles, I transitioned into my current position on the Economic Development team. I quickly became passionate about FirstEnergy’s role in helping communities prosper.
What is your role as an economic development manager?
Our team is a key element in the economic development process – every customer needs electricity, and we work with customers and others at the company to ensure power requirements are met and within a timely manner.
However, our role has evolved, and we now act in a major support role for organizations. Whether an organization is in need of a qualified workforce or project funding, we can help fulfill these needs through our relationships with state and local economic development groups. Our team wears a lot of hats and brings as many resources to the table as we can.
What do you like most about your role in economic development?
Northeast Ohio is thriving, and people all over the country are noticing the opportunities that exist as the area evolves. The growth helps attract new businesses and keeps existing businesses in our region, as well as attract talent. It’s exciting to see so much activity, and I continue to be amazed by how many interesting and unique products are manufactured in our region.
I truly enjoy assisting companies with acquiring the resources they need to grow and thrive. There are new challenges and opportunities every day, and no two projects are ever the same.
Why is FirstEnergy a valuable partner for northeast Ohio businesses?
FirstEnergy’s senior management team is focused on how we can benefit the communities we serve. Our level of staffing and company-wide commitment to economic development is a unique asset to our customers.
In fact, last year we rolled out a pilot program in the Ohio Edison service territory called “Enhancing Economic Development Capacity,” which was designed to give local economic development organizations honest feedback about the site selection process through a mock project.
For the pilot, we worked with Marion CANDO!* A site location consultant developed a mock proposal and various community partners responded as if it was a real project, including offering site tours, fulfilling information requests, etc. At the conclusion of the simulation, the consultant presented Marion CANDO! with a SWOT analysis to help the community understand what went well and how they can improve.
“Enhancing Economic Development Capacity” was very well received, and we’re hoping to expand the program in 2017.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of the office?
I am married with five children. We vacation in Myrtle Beach together every year, and enjoy swimming and entertaining at our home during the summertime. I also golf and read when I have free time. And, as an Ohio State University alumna, I’m a big Ohio State sports fan. Go Buckeyes!
FirstEnergy’s Economic Development team can provide the assistance you need when you're looking to move to or expand your business in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and Maryland. Learn more at www.firstenergycorp.com/economicdevelopment. Stay up-to-date on the latest Economic Development news on LinkedIn.
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