ATLANTA— A Thomaston native has helped the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) achieve a high honor in Washington, DC. On June 4, GDEcD received the Presidential “E Star” Award, the nation’s highest honor for excellence in providing export programs and services. GDEcD is the first export service provider to ever receive a second “E Star” Award. Additionally, GDEcD is one of only four organizations to receive the award for export service for 2014. The “E Star” award was presented to GDEcD’s International Trade Division at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker presented the award on behalf of President Barack Obama.
Nikki Yu of Thomaston is an International Trade Manager for GDEcD, assisting information, communication and technology companies in Georgia to increase their exports and expand into new markets. Yu joined the department in 2013.
“I am honored to be a part of something so rare and significant,” Yu said. “The ‘E Star’ is the pinnacle of achievement for export service providers and we are thrilled to have been awarded one this year.”
Nikki Yu is a 2005 graduate of Upson-Lee High School. Her parents, Thomas and Ellison Yu still reside in Thomaston.
“The President’s “E” Award winners are fantastic American businesses and organizations that have played a crucial role in strengthening and growing our economy through increased U.S. exports,” said Secretary Pritzker. “Congratulations to the Georgia Department of Economic Development for its export achievement, which helps the local community, Georgia and the nation remain competitive in the global marketplace.”
The President’s “E Star” and “E” Awards are the nation’s highest honor given to an export service organization. The “E” Award was originally created by executive order from President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The “E Star” Award is authorized to recognize previous “E” Award winners for their continued efforts in export expansion. Georgia’s international trade program first achieved “E” status in 1970 and was awarded its first “E Star” in 2007.
GDEcD’s International Trade Division aims to match Georgia suppliers with international buyers. The Division offers a variety of export promotion services to Georgia companies, in addition to utilizing the state’s international representatives in 11 strategic global markets. More than 14,500 Georgia companies exported $37.6 billion in goods and services to 230 countries and territories in 2013. Due to its fourth consecutive record year in exports, Georgia is now the 11th largest exporting state based on dollar value of exports. In FY 2013, GDEcD’s International Trade Division worked with 1,346 companies in Georgia. Work with these companies resulted in 420 export deals, valued at $35.9 million.