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The President’s ‘E’ Award presented to SIUE’s Illinois SBDC International Trade Center

Shown from left, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo presents the “E” award for export service to Silvia Torres Bowman, director of the Illinois SBDC ITC at SIUE, and James T. Minor, Ph.D., SIUE chancellor. (SIUE photo)

In 1961, President Kennedy signed an executive order reviving the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and recognize America’s exporters. On Tuesday, June 6, the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and International Trade Center (ITC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville received the “E” award for export service at the 62nd anniversary of the award ceremony at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The award is the highest recognition a person or U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. A total of 24 U.S. companies and organizations from 14 states were presented with the President’s “E” and “E Star” Awards. The Illinois SBDC ITC was one of four organizations that won the “E” award for export service and the only one located at a university.

“Receiving this recognition not only motivates us to work even harder, but also reminds us that we are making a significant impact on so many small businesses and communities in Illinois and our U.S. economy,” said Silvia Torres Bowman, director of the Illinois SBDC ITC at SIUE. “Building long term partnerships with our clients has always been an integral part of the mission and our long-term commitment to small businesses in southern Illinois.”

“This recognition demonstrates SIUE’s ability to make outsized contributions to the economic development of our region,” said SIUE Chancellor James T. Minor, PhD. “In addition to producing talented graduates who will define the workforce of the region, SIUE supports the development of the business community in ways that merit national recognition. The award is a powerful and definitive statement about impact.”

The Illinois SBDC ITC at SIUE has been serving the exporting needs of small and medium-sized businesses from 35 counties in southern Illinois for nearly four decades. The ITC focuses on educating, equipping and empowering small businesses for long-term international success. The ITC fosters global trade through collaboration with SIUE’s academic programs, connecting students developing skills in international business, foreign languages and market research with regional companies seeking to expand internationally through exports.

“On Behalf of President Biden, I congratulate the Illinois SBDC ITC at SIUE on its distinguished achievements in exports, which is delivering tangible benefits for local economies, workers and their families,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The world turns to the United States for innovative products and solutions thanks in part to U.S. businesses of all shapes and sizes that export. The Illinois SBDC ITC at SIUE serves as a model that will inspire enterprises and entrepreneurs everywhere.”

“I am extremely grateful and appreciative to our SBDC Network, SIUE and the School of Business, for their unwavering support over the years,” Torres Bowman continued. “To our clients and our local, regional, state, federal and international partners, thank you for your trust, collaborative spirit and loyal support.”

“Silvia has made it her life’s work to assist Illinois companies in their quests to become successful exporters and this award acknowledges that hard work,” said Tim Schoenecker, PhD, dean of the School of Business. The ITC plays a critical role in our business school’s efforts to provide societal impact.”

Winners of the “E” and “E Star” Awards are authorized to fly a blue and white banner, to display the accompanying certificate of commendation, which is signed by the Secretary of Commerce in the name and by the authority of the President, to wear and issue to employees an “E” or “E Star” lapel pin, and to refer to the award in their advertising.

The Illinois SBDC International Trade Center at SIUE serves businesses in southern Illinois by providing individualized, no-cost export advising, identification of foreign buyers, agents and/or distributors through trade leads, international market analysis, and more. The ITC is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a service to the region’s entrepreneurial and business community. As a key member of the Illinois SBDC Network, the ITC delivers these important services to its clients while supporting the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high-quality education that powerfully transforms the lives of all individuals who seek something greater. A premier metropolitan university, SIUE is creating social and economic mobility for individuals while also powering the workforce of the future. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of more than 12,500.


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