U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker presented FirstMerit Bank with the President’s E Award for Export Service. The award is the highest recognition a U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

FirstMerit’s International Banking Division offers products and services to help businesses enter and compete in global markets, including letters of credit, documentary collections, foreign exchange advisory and payments services and U.S. government guaranteed working capital loan programs. These services are delivered through experienced bankers, state-of-the-market technology and global banking partners.

“We are pleased that FirstMerit’s International Banking Division has been recognized by the president for excellence in export service. We understand the importance that exporting plays in the economic vitality of our Midwest markets and are pleased to be helping companies which already export their products to global markets as well as those considering expansion into markets beyond our borders,” said Paul G. Greig, chairman, president and CEO of FirstMerit.

“As a community bank doing business throughout the Midwest, we are proud of our international banking capabilities and that we are able to offer businesses global access no farther away than the nearest FirstMerit branch or banking officer,” said Craig Schurr, SVP and manager, International Banking Division.

In 1961, President Kennedy signed an executive order reviving the World War II E symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America’s exporters. Today, Secretary Pritzker honored 45 U.S. companies with the President’s E Award for outstanding work to reduce barriers to foreign markets and to open the door to more trade around the world.

According the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of goods and services hit an all-time record of $2.34 trillion in 2014, accounting for 13.4% of U.S. GDP, compared to 7.5% 30 years ago. Nationally, jobs supported by exports reached an all-time high last year with more than 11.7 million jobs, up 1.8 million since 2009.

American companies are nominated for E Awards through the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service office network, located within the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. Record years of successive export growth and an applicant’s demonstration of an innovative international marketing plan that led to the increase in exports is a significant factor in selecting the overall winners.