Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Inland Northwest businesses and Greater Spokane Incorporated to call for Congress to reauthorize a crucial job-creating tool for small business across Washington state, the Export-Import Bank. Her remarks took place during a visit to SCAFCO Grain Systems Company in Spokane Valley.
"Washington exports mean Washington jobs," said Cantwell. "Allowing the Export-Import Bank to expire would be a setback to Spokane manufacturing jobs and Eastern Washington's export economy. Congress needs to put jobs before partisanship and pass the Export-Import Bank extension without delay."
The Export-Import Bank has provided SCAFCO export financing assistance since 2003, which helps the company export grain storage systems and steel framing products around the world. According to the company, Ex-Im Bank financing has allowed it to expand its sales to 11 additional countries, and potentially to two more countries in the near future. SCAFCO exports to 79 countries total and employs 250 workers in Washington state -- 237 of which are located in Spokane.
Established in 1934, the Export-Import Bank is America's official export credit agency, helping to finance the exports of American-made goods -- all at no cost the U.S. taxpayer. The bank helps to level the playing field for American manufacturers and service providers in the global marketplace.
Cantwell introduced a bipartisan amendment in March to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for four years. Unless Congress acts before May 31, the Export-Import Bank will be forced to stop financing new export deals. With one in three jobs dependent on trade, Washington would be the hardest hit state in the country if the bank is not reauthorized.
The bank supports 83,000 jobs in Washington state, including supporting more than $15 million in sales from eight Spokane County companies over the last five years. Since 2007, the bank has provided $28 billion in loans to 168 exporters in Washington state, resulting in $64 billion in sales. Of these 168 exporters, 120 were small businesses.
The Export-Import Bank has also helped Landmark Native Seed in Airway Heights grow. Landmark has received some $2 million in Ex-Im support over the past five years, which has helped the small business boost its export sales in China. If the bank isn't reauthorized, Landmark could be forced to reduce shipments and cut jobs.
Failure to extend the bank's charter would seriously impact the ability of American companies to export overseas and cost jobs. China, Brazil, France, and many other companies provide far more aggressive export credit financing to companies within their borders. In 2010, China supplied $45 billion in export loans and loan guarantees, while the U.S. provided only $13 billion, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Government.
A bill to reauthorize the bank through 2015 was reported out of the Senate Banking Committee by unanimous voice vote on September 8, 2011. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Small Business Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, TechAmerica, the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, Coalition for Employment through Exports, Washington Council on International Trade, Aerospace Machinists Industrial District Lodge 751, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable support its reauthorization.
At today's event, Senator Cantwell was joined by Lawrence Stone, SCAFCO's CEO and president; Orlin Reinbold, Landmark Native Seed's owner; Stan Key, Greater Spokane Incorporated Industry manager; and Jim Robinson, a SCAFCO worker.