August 15, 2001 11:00 pm
AT THE HELM: Joel Frank began work at the Union County Economic Development Corporation offices on Monday. (The Observer/PHIL BLLOCK).
AT THE HELM: Joel Frank began work at the Union County Economic Development Corporation offices on Monday. (The Observer/PHIL BLLOCK).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

After an extensive search in Oregon, Idaho and Washington, the Union County Economic Development Corporation has hired its first full-time executive director.

Hes Joel R. Frank, who joins UCEDC from Ontario, where he was the chief financial officer for Excel Environmental Services and has a strong agricultural background.

We had several very highly qualified applicants, then narrowed the field to two and selected Joel, said Dan Schuette, UCEDCs immediate past president .

The deciding factor was that we felt he would remain in the community for a long period of time, Schuette said.

The last director, Karen Wood, resigned at the end of May to take a similar position in Sweet Home. She took the half-time secretary and economic development specialist job in La Grande in June 1999.

UCEDC board members were polled earlier on offering the position to Frank, but the formal vote wont take place until tonights regular UCEDC board meeting, Schuette said. The salary is $32,000 annually.

Frank began work at the UCEDC offices Monday and immediately began getting acquainted with the community and its people.

Im very excited about the position, about the potential for UCEDC, especially with Eastern Oregon University being here, Frank said.

Frank is renting a home in Island City, but said his family likely would look for some acreage to build on or to buy with a house on it.

My family has been involved in ranching. Our ranch actually was a Spanish land grant. Im into cutting horses and have a few paints. Ive even sold one to Italy, Frank said.

He said he probably would bring some horses to the

La Grande area later on.

His own heritage is Basque and Spanish, he said. He and his wife, Rhonda, have four children, ranging from 16 months to 10 years.

Frank points to his background and work experience as qualifying him for the position. He said he was very active in economic development activities in Malheur County.

As a business owner, I recognized the significance of UCEDCs mission and objectives.

As CEO of Excel Environmental Services, he developed new product lines that doubled earnings and diversified the company to a full-service environmental/energy conservation company. Part of his job was to secure contracts with government and large multi-national corporations, he said.

He worked for that Ontario company for two years. Before that, he spent five years with the 2 Bar J Ranches Inc. as a contract specialist. He procured and implemented multi-million dollar commodity contracts, bought and sold agricultural commodities, among other duties.

Before that he spent nine years as principal and chief executive officer of Cen-Cal Inc., of Shingel Springs, Calif., and Vale, a multi-state ranching and farming operation.

Frank has a bachelor of science degree in agronomics and a degree in nutritional science from Cal-Poly State Technical College in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and has taken a variety of business-related course at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario.

UCEDC is a private corporation, funded by contributions from various cities in the county and from membership fees. There are now about 60 members contributing fees ranging from $100 to $2,000.


Work experience

1999-present: Excel Environmental Services .................................. Ontario

Member/chief financial officer

Duties, accomplishments:

Developed new product lines, increased earnings 100 percent.

Diversified to a full-service environmental/energy conservation company.

Successful in procuring government and multi-national corporations contracts.

1994-1999: 2 Bar J Ranches Inc...........................................

Eastern Oregon

Commodities contract specialist

Procured and implemented multi-million-dollar commodity contracts.

Bought and sold agri-commodities.

Created, implemented customized tax-deferred commodity investments profiles.

1983-1994: Cen-Cal Inc. ............................................... Shingel Springs, Calif., Vale

Principal/chief executive officer

Managed multi-state ranching, farming operation.

Showed 300 percent growth in product and assets.

Handled multi-national marketing and sales.


1978-1983: Cal-Poly State Technical College ..........................

San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Bachelor of Science, agronomics.

Degree in nutritional science.

1994-present: Treasure Valley Community College, Ontario.

Continuing education:

Real estate and commodity asset appraisal.

Business management: employee motivation, Excel financial planning.