PORTLAND, Maine — The U.S. Department of Commerce gave the Maine International Trade Center its highest award for helping to promote and expand U.S. exports.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker presented the award to the Maine trade office Monday, complementing the organization for working to increase U.S. exports.

The group was one of 123 honorees receiving the annual “E” awards, created under President John F. Kennedy’s administration in 1961. Of those, 105 of the winners were small or medium-sized businesses.

The Maine International Trade Center, or MITC, was among 28 groups or companies recognized for continuing to support U.S. exports since first winning the “E” award. The center was nominated for the award by Jeffrey Porter, a regional Commerce Department representative who leads the department’s Export Assistance Center in Portland.

“MITC has played a crucial role in strengthening and growing our economy by providing export assistance programs and services to Maine’s business community,” Porter said.

Janine Bisaillon-Cary, the trade center’s president, said in a news release that the award was “a great honor,” adding that “international trade and investment are critical means to future economic growth, not just for Maine but for the United States as a whole.”

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King praised the trade center’s award in a joint statement.

“For nearly 20 years, the Maine International Trade Center has provided critical services and advice to assist Maine businesses as they work to sell their products overseas and create jobs here at home,” Collins and King said in a joint statement. “We congratulate MITC for this well-deserved national recognition, and applaud the Department of Commerce for choosing such a fitting awardee that continues to do great work expanding Maine’s economy.”