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Exporting businesses recognized by governor

CHARLESTON — Three local businesses were among 26 West Virginia companies honored this week with the Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry Award, recognizing businesses that exported to a new country during the previous year.

Gov. Jim Justice’s chief of staff, Mike Hall, presided over the ceremony, held in Charleston Tuesday. He was joined by Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch and West Virginia Development Office Executive Director Mike Graney.

“We in government try to encourage business, try to encourage the people who are already here, building businesses and bringing in revenue,” said Hall. “This award is given to companies that made their first sale to a new country in the previous calendar year. Since 2002, more than 2,200 awards have been presented to 169 companies that have sold products to 188 countries around the world. On behalf of the governor, I thank you and I congratulate you.”

Among those recognized were:

• American Muscle Docks and Fabrication, of Wellsburg, which produces boat docks, dock hardware, marina accessories and metal fabrication. The company exports to the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Finland.

• Chestnut Hill Candle Co., of Chester, which produces and sells candles, and exports to Poland and Italy.

• The Homer Laughlin China Co., of Newell, a producer of tabletop dinnerware and ceramics, exporting to Australia.

This year, 10 companies received the commendation award for the first time. Sports Outfitters is the first tourism company to receive the award.

“For years, West Virginia has continued to build the foundation of economic diversity in our great state. These innovative companies are perfect examples of how hard-working, entrepreneurial companies in our state can compete on the world stage,” said Gaunch.

“Our Export Promotion Program brings expertise, innovative thinking and resources to business in our state. The program is committed to assisting small and mid-sized companies begin diversifying their business and reaching new markets around the globe,” said Mike Graney, director of West Virginia’s Development Office.

A total of 77 countries were represented. Five countries appeared as markets for West Virginia companies for the first time: Vanuatu, Somalia, Lesotho, Central African Republic and Liechtenstein. Countries that were the most frequent market destinations included Australia, Canada, Poland, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Each company received a framed piece of currency from each new country to which the business began exporting. The presentation is based on the tradition of displaying the first dollar a business earns.

Following a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion, the award presentation was held in the Governor’s Reception Room at the State Capitol.

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