The FBI's loss is NABA's gain. Roseann Hicks, incoming president of the Northland Area Business Association, had ambitions of becoming a federal agent when she graduated from high school, but got sidetracked by marriage and involvement in the family business.

The FBI's loss is NABA's gain.

Roseann Hicks, incoming president of the Northland Area Business Association, had ambitions of becoming a federal agent when she graduated from high school, but got sidetracked by marriage and involvement in the family business.

Now, she's set to become even more involved in the business community as a whole for the neighborhood in which she's resided all her life.

Hicks, freshly returned from a family vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, talked last week about the journey from FBI-wannabe to business association leader, with a try for a Columbus City Council seat along the way.

Hicks was born to Northland residents 31 years ago last week. She graduated from the Tree of Life Christian School on Northridge Road. Hicks enrolled at Capital University as a criminology major with a hope of one day joining the FBI.

"I thought even though I was only 4-foot-11, I'd make a great FBI agent," Hicks said.

Marriage to Dale Hicks, a Volvo parts representative for a trucking company, interrupted her studies, and she's not quite finished.

Roseann Hicks is also, these days, deeply involved in running the family business, Yogi's Hoagies on Morse Road.

Yogi's Hoagies opened in 1977. Founder Eddie Albanese, Hicks said, had a concept of providing good food at good prices, of keeping the menu simple and the operation family-oriented. Hicks said that her mother, Gloria, went to work in the restaurant first, followed by her father, Skip, and they eventually bought the business around three decades ago.

Hicks began going into Yogi's with her parents when she was 11.

"I've literally grown up in here," she said.

For Hicks, her first involvement with NABA came about three and a half years ago when representatives of the business organization approached Northland Community Council members about appointing someone to serve as a liaison between the two organizations.

"They wanted to keep in close connection with the community organizations," Hicks said.

Hicks was then secretary of the NCC and the Maize Morse Tri-Area Civic Association representative.

As someone involved in a family enterprise, the backbone of the business community in the Northland area, Hicks felt it only made sense to volunteer for the liaison position, and she was appointed a trustee for NABA.

She's been attending NABA meetings and becoming more involved ever since.

"A lot of the issues that affect us are affecting the other small businesses, and not only small businesses but businesses of all sizes," Hicks said. "I can start by saying if this is what we're going through, what can a business association do to alleviate some of the aches and pains of the economy?"

One of the answers, according to the new president, is for the organization to become even more of a resource to members. While keeping dues low, Hicks said that she hopes to construct a better benefits package for members in the form of such things as increased networking opportunities, improved Web presence on NABA's homepage and possibly discount purchasing of insurance.

Before experiencing election victory at NABA's 10th anniversary celebration luncheon on Dec. 8, Hicks tasted election defeat in her bid for council as a Republican candidate on the November ballot.

"That experience was absolutely amazing," Hicks said. "It was a dream of mine to do something like that someday. To kind of get it so soon was incredible. I had a great time. I wasn't disappointed at all."

Going into the election, Hicks said that she knew her base was in the Northland area, but that she was virtually unknown in the rest of the city. The results showed that, with Hicks having the strongest showing in her home neighborhood, but also garnering just under 30,000 votes overall.

"How humbling is that?" Hicks asked. "I was inspired to keep going, to keep trying something else. What I'm doing must be good somewhere."

Hicks added that the idea of her running for president of NABA came up during the council campaign, but she held off on making a decision until after the election. Once she learned she would not be taking a seat on council, Hicks said she was offered the NABA nomination, and accepted.

"I prayed about it a lot," she said. "I talked to a lot of people I trust and I respect."

Hicks now looks forward to her presidency as an opportunity for her and a position in which she can be effective.

"It just kind of made sense," she said.

"At this point in the game, NABA needs to redefine itself because Northland is redefining itself," Hicks continued. "Northland needs to be branded and marketed, not only for the people who plan to remain here but also those who look to locate here."

She pointed out that, geographically, Northland has a lot going for it with easy access to Interstates 71 and 270.

Hicks can remember growing up when Northland Mall was in its heyday and was a magnet that drew people to the area from all over central Ohio. She said that she knows those days are done, but that doesn't mean Northland as a neighborhood and a business community can't succeed.

"There are several people, good people, who are committed to this area," Hicks said. "I think that says leaps and bounds about the potential of the community.

"Northland can't be what it used to be. We can't have a big mall anymore. But we know that the community will come out to support Northland in the next phase of it.

"There are a lot of people who have an unwavering commitment to Northland."