By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Former Pulaski County Community Development Director Shawn Utt recently received the 2013 Virginia TradePort Innovator of the Year Award for his efforts in recruiting and assisting international companies located in Pulaski County. Utt, now Pulaski’s town manager, received the honor at 65th Annual Virginia Conference on World Trade held in Williamsburg. The award, presented by Virginia TradePort, recognizes companies or individuals that have made significant impacts on “international trade and business development in and around” the TradePort. According to a New River Valley Economic Development Alliance press release, the award recognized Utt’s “efforts and leadership role” over the past three years in attracting international companies such as Phoenix Packaging from Colombia, Red Sun Farms from Mexico/Canada and Korona Candles from Poland. The release also points out that Utt has “worked diligently for years” with international companies already in the county, including Volvo from Sweden, BAE from England, James Hardie from Australia and LH Corp from Germany. The newly recruited companies “are projected to create 750+ jobs and $90+ million in new investment,” NRVEDA Executive Director Aric Bopp, states in the press release. He also points out that the existing international companies provide jobs for over 3,000 workers throughout the NRV “and have a far reaching positive impact on the greater region.” Virginia TradePort is comprised of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry and a Foreign Trade Zone operated out of New River Valley Airport in Dublin.