OKGIT’s Chuck Mills: Export-Import Bank is vital to America’s heartland

Chuck Mills.

Chuck Mills.

As the deadline for renewal of the Export-Import Bank of the United States’ charter approaches at the end of June, some congressional representatives promise they’ll allow the vital American economic tool’s existence to lapse.

In an article by Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling said he wants the bank’s charter to expire without a vote and said that “the momentum is in our favor.”

“This is going to be a critical vote, or hopefully a non-vote, on the future of the Republican Party and the future of our economy,” Hensarling said.

Despite pleas from House Speaker Jon Boehner that such a move would risk thousands of American manufacturing jobs for workers whose products are shipped abroad and guaranteed through the EXIM Bank’s export credit insurance, it appears Representative Hensarling’s move to kill the vital government program may succeed.

The OKGIT’s Chuck Mills, who is also the 2014-2015 Chairman of the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce and a third generation small business owner and exporter, penned an op-ed in the Tulsa World countering claims that the EXIM Bank is government subsidized corporate welfare and a burden on Oklahoma’s small businesses.

According to Mills, “the bank is a government agency that has, in fact, returned $7 billion to the government since 1992, while enabling businesses like ours to enter to new markets through the safety net provided by the bank’s export credit insurance offerings.”

Randy Kellogg

Randy Kellogg

He also touched on the repercussions should the bank’s charter not be renewed, writing “Three generations of my family have been manufacturing quality earth drilling products worldwide for a range of drilling types, right here in Shawnee. We sell drill bits, augers, and other equipment overseas, with exports now accounting for about 20 percent of our business. The export-import bank enabled us to cultivate many of these overseas opportunities — which would ultimately be jeopardized if the bank lost its charter, along with our 20 employees.

“In the Sooner State alone, since 2007, over 115 businesses received export-import bank financing that supported over 7,000 jobs. Losing that financing and the bank’s credit insurance offerings would deliver a harsh blow to businesses throughout the state.”

The OKGIT’s Randy Kellogg, an approved lender with many years of experience in assisting Oklahoma firms do business with EXIM, also spoke in favor of the charter’s renewal at the group’s March 2015 meeting.

“Export-Import helps keep a level playing field for Oklahoma companies on international markets…it doesn’t help finance foreign governments as some critics suggest or only benefit big companies. Its financing helps smaller manufacturers who are indirect exporters when they supply firms like Boeing Company…”

Sawyer Manufacturing Co.

Sawyer Manufacturing Co.

The most obvious success story of EXIM’s support on Oklahoma-based businesses is Sawyer Manufacturing, which was just named the Small Business Administration’s National Exporter of the Year.

In an EXIM feature on the Tulsa-based small business‘ use of the banks financing, Sawyer Manufacturing’s Vice-President Dave Hembree said  that “the ability to extend credit on international sales allows us to grow our business in existing international markets and export our products to new countries by giving our international distributors more flexibility to invest and market our products. Credit terms provided to our international distributors in these markets allow them to better compete, so it makes our U.S. made products more competitive in the international markets.

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