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The U.S. Chamber's "Faces of Trade" campaign highlights entrepreneurs and companies whose success depends on U.S. trade. These businesses are from all over the nation and cross many different industries. Each offer their testimony on what impacts them the greatest and how trade plays an integral part in their success.
Here's the latest story from David Ickert and Air Tractor in Olney, Texas:
"Air Tractor is based in rural Olney, Texas. We have been around since 1972 and are a small business with only one location, operating 3,800 aircraft throughout the world. Our team of 250 employees manufactures ag airplanes and forestry firefighting airplanes. Our customers are all over the world, from a small operator who is servicing a group of farmers in their particular geographic area, to a farmer with a large amount of land that is buying planes for himself to service his crops. International sales are extremely important to Air Tractor, and not only are they crucial now, but they are important for our future as we continue to grow outside the United States.
"At Air Tractor, we export to nearly 20 countries, including Canada, Australia, Chile, and the Middle East. International sales are approximately 50% of our total sales, and 125 of our employees owe their jobs to exporting. One of the biggest challenges that we face because we are a small business and a lot of times we're selling to smaller businesses are the financing of a capital asset. One very important export assistance tool that we have been able to use is the Export-Import Bank of the United States; it has been a tremendous help for us to move our product outside of the United States.
"I am very concerned with what we are hearing out of Washington these days concerning international trade. We're not talking about exporting American jobs; on the contrary, we are talking about making goods and exporting goods. Trade creates jobs in the United States. We need Washington to understand that embracing trade in the world is critical because it means not only growth for the future of Air Tractor but it also means creating jobs in Olney, Texas, and across our nation. Washington must truly look at trade and the tools of trade, and see that exporting grows employment and provides for families in this country. In fact, NAFTA has been very helpful in bringing our products into Canada as we are able to get parts we need from Canada and reduced tariffs mean we can more easily sell our final products to our northern neighbors. America has to engage with other countries and create more free trade agreements if we want to the see the growth that I am predicting for Air Tractor."