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Edward Gerwin, Jr.: Why the Export-Import Bank Is a Main Street, Not a Washington, Institution

On real “Main Streets” across America, from Idaho to California to Maine, the Ex-Im Bank supports U.S. jobs.


On Main Streets across America, small businesses are a critical source of economic growth and good jobs. Over the past two decades, entrepreneurs and small firms have generated an astounding 65 percent of America’s net new jobs. Small businesses that export drive even greater growth.

According to shipping firm UPS, small firms engaged in global trade are 20 percent more productive and produce 20 percent greater job growth when compared to non-exporters. And because only about 4 percent of U.S. small businesses export, boosting small business trade can pay huge dividends for local communities and the overall American economy.

U.S. Export-Import Bank plays a key role in helping American small businesses seize export opportunities in foreign markets. Over the past four years, it has completed over 12,000 financing transactions for small firms — supporting nearly $50 billion in small business exports and well over 100,000 small business jobs — and has hosted over 75 small business export forums in communities nationwide. In 2014, 90 percent of the Ex-Im Bank’s transactions benefitted small businesses.

Despite this, critics like House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) have suggested that gutting the Ex-Im Bank would somehow be a victory for the “Main Street competitive economy.”

In real “Main Street” communities across America, however, small businesses and workers that have benefitted from Ex-Im Bank financing support would certainly disagree. Indeed, more than a few of the small firms that the Ex-Im Bank has supported in recent years are actually located on “Main Streets” across America.

Here are just a few examples:

The Ex-Im Bank provides these and many other local companies with the real-world help they need to grow, support their communities and create good jobs by selling globally. For instance, Ex-Im Bank loan guarantees enable NOW International, a small producer of dietary supplements in Bloomingdale, Illinois and Sparks, Nevada, to gain financial backing from local lenders for exports that directly support 35 jobs at the company.

And the benefits of Ex-Im support for larger companies like Boeing also flow to the thousands of U.S. suppliers and workers that participate in large company supply chains, including businesses that line the Main Streets of communities throughout America.

There are, no doubt, scores of government programs that need to be replaced or reformed. But the Ex-Im Bank isn’t one of them. Rather, the Ex-Im Bank is an efficient and prudent institution that drives exports and economic growth and supports good American jobs, all while actually making a $2 billion profit for the U.S. Treasury over the past five years. If that’s not a model for good governance, what is?

Main Street America is already increasingly frustrated with Washington. Let’s not fuel the fire by eliminating worthwhile programs that directly address Main Street’s real needs.

(Top image: Courtesy of Thinkstock)

This piece also appears in Republic 3.0.


Edward Gerwin, Jr. is Senior Contributing Editor for Republic 3.0 and President of Trade Guru LLC.


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