Sweet success of NY cheesecake and the Ex-Im Bank

There is a new battle raging in Congress between the far right and everyone else. And if the far right ideologues win the fight over the Export-Import Bank, it is going to cost up to 205,000 American jobs and hurt thousands of small businesses like New York’s own Love and Quiches.

Love and Quiches is a great American small-business success story. The company has a state-of-the-art facility now, but it all began back in 1973 as a one-woman show in Susan Axelrod’s kitchen. Her handmade quiches and triple chocolate brownies were a big hit, and her business just kept expanding to the point where she has become a global player in the world of baked goods. She was recently named the Small Business Exporter of the Year.

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Love and Quiches’s success in a highly competitive niche came about because of a great product, Susan’s entrepreneurial spirit and help from the Export-Import Bank.

The Ex-Im Bank, as it’s sometimes called, was started almost 80 years ago to help American businesses like Susan’s turn export opportunities into real sales and to create and maintain good jobs here at home.

In the case of Love and Quiches, Susan discovered that there was a great potential market for her “Mile High Chocolate Cakes” and other baked goods in Russia. But sending a container with $70,000 worth of perishable cookies and cakes to St. Petersburg came with real risks. It also meant her company would be out of pocket by $70,000 in working capital for a period of time. That’s a problem for a small business. Private sector banks told Susan that she couldn’t get business loans based on her $70,000 in “receivables” from a foreign country, unless those receivables were insured. But there was no one out there willing to write a policy.

So, Susan’s banker suggested that she give the Ex-Im Bank a try. After she demonstrated that she and her business were qualified, she paid a premium to the Ex-Im Bank for insurance that would allow her to apply for a loan from a private-sector bank. It all worked like a charm — in part because the Ex-Im Bank coordinates its efforts with the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration and the Chamber of Commerce.

Susan called the experience seamless. She says exports now constitute about 30 percent of her business, and today, her sales of New York cheesecake to Russians helps to support jobs in New York.

She lays it all out in her book, With Love and Quiches, and says that looking back on it all, without the Export-Import Bank “the smaller guys would be dead in the water.”

But the far right extremists in Congress are determined to kill the Ex-Im Bank. Even though it doesn’t cost taxpayers a penny, it somehow offends their ideology. Other Republicans aren’t buying that argument though: 42 House Republicans have already signed a letter to the Speaker supporting an extension of the Ex-Im Bank. If the House were allowed to vote on an extension today, the bill would pass.

Congress should make a strong, bipartisan stand against the extremists and renew the Ex-Im Bank. America needs the jobs. And I believe the entire world needs the mellowing effects of some great New York cheesecake.

Maloney has represented congressional districts in New York City since 1993. She sits on the Financial Services, and the Oversight and Government Reform committees.

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