DEC members receive the award from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Kendee Yamaguchi. Left to right: Jonathan Szucs, Chairman of the National DEC; Zaheer Faruqi, CEO of Aventure Aviation in Peachtree City, Ga.; George Tracy, U.S. Commercial Service Director in Atlanta; Deputy Assistant Secretary Kendee Yamaguchi; Georgia DEC President Dan Usher of One Pacific Link and Sheriah Johnson of Atlanta-based NCR Corp.

The Georgia District Export Council, a group of private-sector advisers that help companies in the state grow their sales internationally, was named the best organization of its kind by the U.S. Commerce Department at a May conference in Washington.

The council was honored as the top council, or DEC, out of more than 60 around the country convened by the department to boost U.S. exports by providing programming, training, coaching and advice to local firms.

Members of the the Georgia DEC including President Dan Usher and U.S. Commercial Service Atlanta Director George Tracy accepted the award during the annual National Association of District Export Councils, or NADEC, conference. 

While DECs all have the same mandate to support export promotion efforts by the Commerce Department, they operate as independent nonprofits, tackling their work with varied methods depending on the makeup of their boards and each council’s role in its respective local export ecosystem.

In addition to its substantive help for small Georgia businesses, including those mentored through the Atlanta Metro Export Challenge grant program, the Georgia DEC set itself apart through its digital outreach. 

The group has maintained and hosted for years a comprehensive set of export training webinars through, which sees thousands of viewers each month using its tools to assess export readiness and better understand topics like export documentation and international commercial terms. 

Also catching the eyes of the nominating committee was the Georgia DEC’s role in helping nearly half of the other DECs around the country to build out websites to multiply efforts in their own communities.

Mr. Usher, the Georgia DEC president, said the recognition is more fuel for the council’s mission to help local firms find global markets. 

“Georgia DEC members are mostly private sector executives volunteering their time and international expertise to help Georgia companies reach the 95 percent of the world’s population outside the U.S.,” Mr. Usher said. “Working closely with local, state and federal trade partners in Georgia, we connect, educate and advocate to impact Georgia’s export growth.”

He said the honor is a testament not only to the DEC but to the broader array of organizations dedicated to helping companies grow globally around the state. 

“It’s an honor for Georgia that we all should celebrate,” he said. “As it relates to our Georgia DEC, we’ll leverage this recognition to raise awareness of our organization and our mission of growing Georgia exports, economy and jobs.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Kendee Yamaguchi presented the award on stage at the NADEC conference. DEC member Sheriah Johnson, senior compliance manager at NCR Corp., and Zaheer Faruqi, CEO of airplane parts exporter Aventure Aviation in Peachtree City, were also on hand for the event. Mr. Faruqi is a Georgia DEC member who earlier this year was selected to represent the Southern area on the steering committee of NADEC.

Learn more about the Georgia DEC, find export resources or reach out for assistance at 

Editor’s note: Global Atlanta Managing Editor Trevor Williams has been a member of the Georgia DEC Board since 2022. 

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...