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Export Awards: Get The Credit You Deserve


The Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry award recognizes your first export sale to a new country.

Exporting is a big deal, especially for a small business. There are logistical hurdles to overcome and language barriers to break through, not to mention the risks you take trying to get your product on the international market. When you finally make your first sale in a new country, it’s a serious accomplishment and deserves to be recognized.

If you made your first sale in a new country in the last year, you’re eligible to receive the Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry award, commonly referred to as the Governor’s Export Awards. This isn’t a participation trophy. Exporting is a major contributor to the growth of West Virginia’s economy and recognizing your success is just one of the ways we can bring awareness to all the good work you’re doing.

Applying for the award is easy. Here’s what you need to know.

Benefits of Applying for an Export Award

You’re probably not in business so you can fill your wall up with awards, but getting recognized for your export success is important. And it can improve your company’s image.

Receiving and displaying your Export Award is a way for you to proudly announce to all visitors and prospective customers that your business is a global company worthy of recognition. In addition to getting the recognition you deserve, think about your employees. Getting acknowledged for exporting achievements can boost morale within a company and encourage company leadership to keep pushing forward.

What Do You Get If You Win?
Similar to a company framing its first dollar, West Virginia Export Award winners receive a plaque that frames the currency of the country where the sale was made.

Can You Win More Than Once?
You can win an Export Award each time you make your first sale in a new country. The maximum number of awards a company can win is 197 — the number of countries in the world. While that might seem like a daunting number, there are WV exporters that have come close. Wheeling Truck Center, now M&K Truck Centers, has received more than 100 awards for their export sales. To date, we have given more than 2,400 awards for new sales in 193 countries.

Does It Matter When The Sale Was Made?
To receive an Export Award during the 2022 ceremony, report your sale from the previous calendar year on your application. Even companies selling internationally for several years without an award are encouraged to apply.

Export Awards Showcase Your Company’s Growth

Twenty years ago, West Virginia exports totaled $2.2 billion. Last year, West Virginia coal exports alone totaled $2.7 billion and total exports for the state totaled $6.2 billion. When the Export Awards were created in 2002, the purpose was to highlight the West Virginia exporting community’s commitment to international trade and contributions to the state’s economy. As technology has improved the exporting process, the number of exporters has increased. More companies are pursuing international sales and proactively seeking customers beyond the U.S. Last year, Gov. Justice recognized 27 companies for making first sales in 50 countries. Your company could be next!

All Companies and Sales Welcome
Each year, when West Virginia companies are notified it’s time to submit their application for the awards, companies new to exporting reach out to see if their sales qualify. The awards are open to all West Virginia companies, regardless of the company’s size or export sale, and companies are encouraged to self-nominate. Award winners include large companies, such as JH Fletcher & Company in Huntington, to smaller companies, such as JQ Dickinson Salt-Works of Malden.

It’s An Honor System
Don’t worry if you don’t have documents to verify your sale. To be considered for an Export Award, you only need to complete the application and list the countries your company made new sales in during the previous year. After confirming your company has not received an award for the countries submitted and that the submission is a legitimate country (FYI Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory), you are invited to an award ceremony hosted at the state Capitol in Charleston. During the ceremony, your company will receive your award and join the other award winners in a celebratory luncheon.

Submit Your 2022 Export Award Application Today!

Is your company ready to join the ranks of more than 170 West Virginia exporters? If your company sells internationally, submit your 2022 Export Awards application by May 10, 2022. Unsure if your sales qualify for the award? Reach out to a West Virginia Department of Economic Development Trade Manager today to find out!

Caitlin Ashley-Lizarraga

By Caitlin Ashley-Lizarraga

Manager, International Trade

Caitlin works with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s Export Promotion Program. She helps introduce the world to the hidden gem of West Virginia one export at a time.

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