Gov. Roy Cooper today presented five North Carolina companies with 2017 Governor’s Export Awards, recognizing their dedication to growth through exporting, which statewide helps support thousands of jobs.

From left, Robin Perkins, president and CEO, and John Maness, executive vice president of manufacturing, of Sanford-based Frontier Spinning Mills, Top Large Business Exporter. Photo Courtesy of Frontier Spinning Mills

North Carolina’s export of goods and services (including financial and information technology) contributes to more than 370,000 jobs in the state, according to the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. And in 2017, the state is expecting the value of its exported goods to exceed $30 billion, at least a 26 percent increase over the past decade.

The first annual Governor’s Export Awards recognizes companies for their commitment to exporting in 2017, and  the influence of exports on the state’s economy and job growth. “This year’s Export Awards honor companies whose products and ideas represent North Carolina’s strong business reputation around the world,” Cooper said.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), in concert with the Governor’s office and North Carolina Department of Commerce, established the award, which was presented in a ceremony at North Carolina’s Executive Mansion.

Five companies – small and large, new to exporting and experienced veterans – were recognized: Therafirm in Richmond County; Blue Ridge Chair Works in Buncombe County; Frontier Spinning Mills in Lee County; Tri-Tech Forensics in Brunswick County; and New Growth Designs in Pitt County.

All have one thing in common – they have turned to the EDPNC’s international trade division for help in achieving their export goals. And that help comes at no charge, which is particularly important for small businesses.

“Our international trade team is here to prepare new exporters through export-education workshops, market research and market-entry strategies while also supporting more-advanced exporters looking for new distributors at international trade shows,” said John Loyack, EDPNC Vice President for Global Business Services. “Many North Carolina companies treat our team like trusted advisers.”

Greenville-based New Growth Designs, Top New Exporter

The team includes five North Carolina-based international trade managers ‒ each of whom specializes in specific industry sectors ‒ and representatives in EDPNC international trade offices located in Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, China. All told, they assisted 559 North Carolina companies in 2017, in 80 counties across the state.

“The EDPNC provides vital resources to small businesses looking to expand into international markets that might not have the ability or know-how to do so on their own,” said Rich Cherry, sales logistics manager of New Growth Designs, high-end artificial greenery manufacturer and Top New Exporter award-winner.

“We received their assistance in September to present our products at the Dubai Hotel Show. In addition to financial assistance for our travel expenses, we benefited from their export expertise and the business connections they arranged prior to our arrival. As a result, we are seeing new interest from this region where the demand for ‘Made in the USA’ goods is strong.”

Asheville-based Blue Ridge Chair Works, Top Small Business Exporter

More details on New Growth Designs and the other Governor’s Award winners appear below:

New Growth Designs, Top New Exporter. Out of its home in Greenville, New Growth Designs manufactures artificial greenery and flower arrangements that are sought by today’s best-known designers and featured in some of the world’s finest luxury stores, museums, and hotels.

Therafirm, Top Rural Exporter. A division of Knit-Rite Inc., Hamlet-based Therafirm manufactures specialized compression hosiery for a variety of markets including the medical and sports industries. The company has been highly successful in dozens of foreign markets around the world.

Blue Ridge Chair Works, Top Small Business Exporter. Based in Asheville, Blue Ridge Chair Works manufactures portable outdoor furniture for campers, hotels, and other customers that value quality and comfort. The company’s growing foreign sales now account for a large share of its business.

Frontier Spinning Mills, Top Large Business Exporter. Frontier Spinning Mills in Sanford has become one of the world’s largest producers of spun yarns for the knitting and weaving industries. The veteran exporter and longstanding EDPNC client offers a diverse product line to customers worldwide. The company stays competitive by applying state-of-the-art automated technology and innovation to every phase of the yarn-manufacturing process.

Tri-Tech Forensics, Top Global Reach Exporter. Tri-Tech Forensics in Leland manufactures forensics products for law enforcement. From fingerprinting and evidence-collection systems to personal protection equipment, the company is an essential part of public safety in a wide range of countries. It exports to almost 50 countries.

To learn more about how the EDPNC can help your company begin exporting or grow foreign sales, email Mike Hubbard, EDPNC director of international trade, at mike.hubbard@edpnc.com

Hamlet-based Therafirm, Top Rural Exporter


Packing DNA kits at Tri-Tech Forensics, Top Global Reach Exporter.