Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) called for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank during a tour of Esterline's Everett facility. The bank has supported about one in three Boeing planes built in Washington state in the past three years, or about 450 commercial aircraft.
Esterline's Everett facility employs more than 600 workers in Everett and manufactures the cockpit hardware found on every Boeing plane built since 1937.
Unless Congress acts before May 31, the Export-Import Bank will be forced to stop its assistance to U.S. exporters. The bank's closure would threaten export deals for Boeing -- and business for Boeing's 300-plus Washington state suppliers like Esterline -- and for more than 100 other companies in Washington state.
Cantwell's tour of Esterline's Everett facility follows a Washington state tour of small and medium-sized businesses creating jobs and growing their export sales with support from the Export-Import Bank. Today in Everett, Senators Cantwell and Murray were joined by Frank Houston, Senior Group Vice President of Esterline, and Jenette Ramos, Vice President and Director of Operations Supply Chain Rate Capability, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
"Boeing plane exports mean Washington jobs at hundreds of suppliers like Esterline," said Cantwell. "Extending the Export-Import Bank is critical for American manufacturing competitiveness and jobs. Allowing the bank to expire would be a setback to Washington's exporters competing against far more aggressive export credit financing in countries like France and China. Congress needs to reauthorize this crucial job-creating tool without delay."
"For over 75 years the Export-Import Bank has supported job-creating U.S. exports by helping American businesses sell to the world," said Murray. "And no one knows this better than the businesses here in Washington state. Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank means a level playing field for more than 150 Washington state businesses who rely on this financing to sell their products overseas and to keep jobs here at home. Given the obvious need for exports to power economic growth, it would be irresponsible to pull the plug on this vital resource for our nation's job creators."
The Export-Import Bank is important for small and medium-sized exporters all across the nation. The Export-Import Bank supports 83,000 jobs in Washington state, including supporting $66 billion in sales from 172 Washington state exporters over the last five years. Of these 172 exporters, 121 were small businesses.
The bank's financing for smaller exporters has risen over 70 percent the last three years, comprising more than 85 percent of the bank's transactions. In FY 2011, more than 700 first-time small businesses and nearly 500 minority- and women-owned businesses used the bank's services. The Export-Import Bank is scheduled to open a new branch in Seattle this summer, with the goal of helping small businesses get more access to the bank's financing.
In the past week, Cantwell has joined local businesses in Spokane, Yakima and Moses Lake to call for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank -- a crucial job-creating tool for small and medium-sized exporting businesses across the state. On April 4, Cantwell joined Inland Northwest businesses and Greater Spokane Incorporated to highlight the bank's impact on Eastern Washington. In the past five years, the bank has supported more than $100 million in sales from more than 30 Eastern Washington companies.
Joining Cantwell in Spokane were SCAFCO Grain Systems Company of Spokane Valley, which employs 250 workers in Washington state -- 237 of which are located in Spokane, and Landmark Native Seed of Spokane, which employs 18 workers. The bank has helped SCAFCO expand its sales of grain storage systems to 11 additional countries and potentially to two more countries in the near future. The bank has also helped Landmark boost its export sales in China.
Also on April 4, Cantwell joined Sonico of Moses Lake, a small business that performs service repair work on airplanes from some of the world's largest airlines. The Export-Import Bank has helped Sonico grow its business to take on over 40 new foreign clients and expand its overseas sales from just 3 countries to 17 today. Sonico has also grown its workforce by 20 percent since the small business began using the bank's assistance. If the Export-Import Bank is not reauthorized, Sonico would be forced to cut its workforce by ten percent, according to the company.
On April 5, Cantwell joined a small business, Manhasset Specialty Company, and the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce to highlight the bank's impact on Yakima County's economy. In the past five years, the bank has supported more than $15 million in sales from nine Yakima County companies. Manhasset, which manufactures music stands sold all over the world, has used the bank to double its foreign sales in just the past five years. Roughly 88 percent of Manhasset's export sales last year were insured by the Export-Import Bank. The bank's closure would threaten export deals for Manhasset, which employs 18 people in Yakima.
In March, Cantwell introduced a bipartisan amendment -- which Murray cosponsored -- to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for four years. Cantwell's amendment extends the Export-Import Bank until 2015 and increases its lending authority from $100 billion to $140 billion. The Washington Council on International Trade, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Small Business Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers support the bank's reauthorization.
If private banks are unwilling, the Export-Import Bank steps in and finances or insures the purchase of U.S. goods by foreign customers. The bank's activities create jobs, don't cost U.S. taxpayers a dime and will reduce the deficit by $900 million over the next five years.