Trade center wins federal award


Sonja Johnson. Courtesy GVSU

A local trade organization has been recognized by the federal government for its work.

Grand Valley State University's Van Andel Global Trade Center, or VAGTC, has received the president's "E" Award for its contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross presented the award to Sonja Johnson, executive director of VAGTC, and Mark Bleckley, associate director of VAGTC, during a special ceremony last month in Washington, D.C.

"The awards committee was very impressed with the organization's number and variety of seminars and workshops to educate exporters," Ross said. "The organization's collaboration with partners in the community was also particularly notable.

“The Van Andel Global Trade Center's achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the U.S. economy and create American jobs."

The Van Andel Global Trade Center was founded in 1999 as an outreach unit of Grand Valley State University to provide the community with international consulting, training and resources. The center seeks to strengthen the community by helping companies increase their international business and become more competitive in the global marketplace.

Located on GVSU's Pew campus downtown, VAGTC has helped “thousands of businesses achieve their goals of going global.” The center is also the grantee-administrator for the Kent-Ottawa-Muskegon Foreign Trade Zone.

"Receiving the 'E' Award is an extremely proud moment for our entire staff," Johnson said. "We are here today to celebrate the recognition of our impact on the community and the companies that use our services and our talented staff. The award also celebrates our commitment to providing students with hands-on applied international experience before graduation."

American companies are nominated for "E" Awards through the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service office network, located within the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration.

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