Manufacturing is making a comeback in America's industrial heartland, with rising exports playing a particularly important role for smaller manufacturers. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Ohio's exports of manufactured goods rose by nearly 50% from 2009 to 2013, from $32.3 to $47.8 billion. This export boom has helped generate thousands of good jobs in a variety of manufacturing sectors and related areas such as transportation and logistics.
One important element in this success has been the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), which provides export financing and guarantees in circumstances where commercial banks are unable or unwilling to step in. However, without congressional action, Ex-Im will be forced to shut its doors after its charter expires on September 30.
Thousands of Buckeye State jobs could be at risk. Ex-Im supported $2.4 billion worth of Ohio exports that in turn sustained more than 15,000 jobs in the state between 2007 and 2014.
For example, A.J. Rose Manufacturing Co. in Avon, Ohio, has used Ex-Im loan guarantees to build its export business for engine parts. Normally, commercial banks will not extend loans to cover a small company's overseas orders, but Ex-Im guarantees allow them to do just that. With Ex-Im guarantees, A.J. Rose exported an additional $2.7 million in engine parts and hired 19 people. CFO Doug Krzywicki says: "All manufacturing is on the rebound at this point. It behooves everyone to build our export base."
NoShok Inc. in Berea, Ohio, makes liquid-filled pressure gauges, and it uses Ex-Im's credit insurance. In the private sector, credit insurance is only affordable for large companies filling large orders, and small manufacturers are often shut out. President Jeff Scott explains that "Ex-Im helps level the playing field for U.S. companies seeking new sales in fiercely competitive global markets. I urge Congress to support Ex-Im's swift reauthorization."
Another company that uses Ex-Im insurance is Quest Automotive Products in Masillon, Ohio. Since working with Ex-Im, Quest has experienced double-digit growth and has hired many new employees. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Cindy Spino, International Sales Manager, writes: "We urge Congress to act swiftly to reauthorize the bank before its charter lapses on September 30, enabling us to continue to enjoy growth in our export sales and protect the jobs that we have created to support those sales."
Columbus-based Davenport Aviation was founded by Joao and Leah Simoes following the financial crisis, and the firm exports airplane parts to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America. Ex-Im's credit line lets Davenport deal with the 90 to 120 cash lifecycles common in exporting, something commercial banks won't do for small businesses. Leah Simoes reminds Congress: "Our business needs and has had great success with Ex-Im Bank. It's necessary for small business."
Given that so many high-paying manufacturing jobs are at stake, it makes perfect sense that the Ohio District Export Councils (DECs) have been some of the most active in the nation in speaking out for renewal of Ex-Im. Thomas S. Norwalk, Vice Chair of the Southern Ohio District Export Council (SODEC), describes SODEC's efforts: "We've been urging all of our members who use Ex-Im to reach out and contact Congress. We've gotten editorials in the newspaper and have personally met with key members of Congress including John Boehner. All 59 DECs across the nation are deeply involved. This is one government service Ohio cannot afford to lose."
With the September 30 deadline looming, Congress must act quickly to renew the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Small manufacturing jobs are at stake all across the country--and especially in Ohio.
Support Ex-Im Bank reauthorization at www.uschamber.com/ex-im.
Editor's note: Thomas Norwalk was incorrectly named "Thomas Norfolk." We apologize for the error.