Georgia’s international trade team has become the first organization ever to win a fourth presidential award for boosting American exports.
The E Awards, started in the 1960s by President John F. Kennedy and distributed by the U.S. Commerce Department, constitute the government’s highest honor for companies that contribute to American economic vitality by selling their goods or services overseas, as well as groups that help facilitate such trade.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development took home is first E Award for Export Service in 1975, but then in 2007 won its first E Star, the designation for repeat winners. It netted yet another E Star in 2014 as part of a major Georgia cohort that included the Metro Atlanta Chamber (and Global Atlanta).
Since then, the department says its work has led to 1,170 export “successes” for Georgia clients, who access the division’s services free of charge. Nine out of 10 Georgia exporters are small businesses.
On Oct. 22, the international trade division became Georgia’s only awardee in this year’s batch of 39 winners announced by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Georgia’s top trade officials have consistently hammered home how exports contribute to companies’ overall health. Those that sell internationally, they say, tend to hire and pay more, avoiding reliance on a particular market and often refining their products as a result of global exposure.
“Export development helps our companies and our economy stay resilient. Our exporters are serious about expanding their markets, and we’re committed to helping them reach their goals through customized assistance and services,” said GDEcD Deputy Commissioner for International Trade Mary Waters.
The department provides market research and introductions and trade show assistance through a local team that is supplemented by offices in 12 countries around the world. It assisted some 2,000 companies last year.
“This recognition is a testament to Georgia’s role in the global economy, the quality of our Georgia goods and services, and the commitment of our team in-state and abroad who continue to find success year in and year out,” Commissioner Pat Wilson said.
The state recently announced that it had received a STEP grant of $162,000 that will go toward helping companies explore new markets through up to $6,000 in reimbursable grants under the Go Global Georgia program. It also launched a revamped online export directory to put Georgia-made products in front of international buyers.
In a letter to the trade division confirming the award, Mr. Ross pointed to the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s participation in 63 trade missions since 2014 as a sign of its commitment to helping companies find new markets.
“The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the U.S. economy and create American jobs,” Mr. Ross wrote.
In a news release, he added that the winners’ ability to sell around the world gave momentum to the Trump administration’s efforts to “to rebuild and reclaim free, fair, and reciprocal global trade opportunities.”
Learn more about the state’s export offerings at https://www.georgia.org/international/trade