With the creation of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank over 80 years ago, many Washington state businesses – both large and small - have remarkable success stories to tell about growing their businesses because of exports.

These stories can be found throughout the Washington state in a variety of industries. Take for example, Seattle’s Lighthouse for the Blind, a manufacturer of machine parts and molding for aerospace companies. Because of its robust export business supported by the bank, it is able provide more than 400 good-paying jobs for Washingtonians in the deaf-blind community.

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Across the Cascades, in the 8th Congressional District, No. 9 Hay, based in Ellensburg, was first introduced to the Ex-Im Bank when they started their export business. Now a significant exporter, Bob Haberman of No. 9 Hay has said “how beneficial the bank can be for U.S. businesses trying to develop and expand foreign markets.”

Stories like these can be found throughout Washington state and across the country, because the bank’s financial bridge provides critical certainty and protections to small employers, allowing them to enter new markets abroad and create jobs at home. Other businesses depend on the bank, too, because they serve as suppliers for exporters. For example, in our state alone there are an estimated 1,900 companies tied to the aerospace industry as suppliers. Many of these companies are small- and medium-sized businesses which play a central part in the supply chain and their successes ultimately depend on the bank as well. 

Just last year, the Ex-Im Bank supported over $15 billion in exports from Washington, sustaining and creating good paying jobs. Since 2007, the Bank has supported over 230 exporters and $135 billion in exports from Washington. Of the 234 exporters, 154 were small businesses; this is important because in Washington state 90 percent of exporters are small- and medium-sized businesses. This all corresponds to hundreds and thousands of jobs supported across the state, and countless more across the nation. Without Congressional action on a long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank charter, we are putting these jobs at risk.

We recognize the need for reforms that create greater accountability and transparency. They, too, deserve debate and consideration. However, to have these discussions, we must move to reauthorize the bank.

Time is of the essence. With the help of Ex-Im Bank, even our smallest exporters located in rural areas of the state and nation can have a vital tool that helps them create jobs and actively participate in their small community’s recovery, giving hope to families.

This is a competitiveness issue, and we need to support our exporters so that they may continue to thrive and grow, because across the globe the number of export credit agencies run by other countries continues to increase. This puts our exporters at a disadvantage.

Aside from the broader economic benefits and job creation, the Ex-Im Bank returns money to the U.S. Treasury. According to the bank, in 2014, it returned $675 million to the Treasury. We consider this to be a win-win for hard-working Americans.

As representatives of a state that is one of the nation’s top export marketplaces, the Ex-Im Bank is critical to employers working to expand sale of their goods overseas and, as a result, create good-paying jobs that allow widespread and shared prosperity.

Congress must act to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank charter. The consequences of doing nothing would be devastating to employers and employees in Washington state and around the nation. 

Reichert has represented Washington’s 8th Congressional District since 2005. He sits on the Ways and Means Committee. Johnson is the president of the Association of Washington Business, which represents nearly 8,000 Washington employers of all sizes.