Economy & Budget

Uncertainty in Washington roiling small businesses

I’ve sadly come to learn that it’s foolish to expect certainty from Congress, but as a small business owner, that’s what we need.

As the end of September closes in, we are reaching a crucial juncture in determining the destiny of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). Policymakers must determine whether the Bank’s charter is, in fact, worthy of reauthorization.

We need policymakers across the country to stop the political brinksmanship that has threatened our economy and reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank to ensure manufacturers can continue focusing on their jobs—instead of being roiled by uncertainty approaching deadline. We must not let the fate of the Bank become collateral damage to a divisive Congress that has failed time and time again to act rationally as a deadline looms.

{mosads}As the CEO of FirmGreen in California, I can attest to the impact the Ex-Im Bank’s export financing programs has had on my company, allowing us to continue developing innovative energy solutions and expand internationally. As we are aspiring to become a worldwide leader in alternative energy, we rely on the financing of the Ex-Im Bank to expand our customer base. While some domestic companies are interested in utilizing clean energy, it is a higher priority for international companies and with Ex-Im, we have been able to capture some of this critical market share. Without the resources of the Ex-Im Bank, however, this future growth is seriously jeopardized.

In today’s highly competitive global economy, manufacturers in the United States already compete on principles of quality, price, reliability, and on-time delivery. Why would we introduce additional hoops for our companies to jump through by shuttering a program that has proven invaluable to our economic growth—and has actually returned money to the U.S. Treasury Department?

We need to ensure that manufacturers remain aligned for success by receiving the necessary capital they need to invest, grow, and expand their operations. This means eliminating the gridlock that has seemingly become a permanent fixture in Washington and has threatened industries year after year, Congressional session after Congressional session. The Ex-Im Bank has played a critical role for American businesses, filling a void when they needed it most. We must not allow this valuable institution to fall prey to Beltway interest groups at the expense of the American public.

Make no mistake — this debate has already significantly harmed manufacturers this year, with looming hesitation costing business owners pursuing sales and new business opportunities abroad. Many of these businesses build products that take significant investments of time and capital and simply can’t afford to start manufacturing a multimillion-dollar piece of equipment if they don’t know whether the Ex-Im Bank will be a going concern or forced into extinction down the road. Foreign customers want to ensure that their supply chain will be reliable and this uncertainty has inevitably cost our companies at home valuable contracts over the past couple of months. How much damage will be done before we realize that we are letting Washington undercut the company’s competitiveness and the credibility of our nation’s competitiveness in the eyes of peers?  

At the end of the day, the Ex-Im Bank is a common sense issue. The bank is a targeted tool, acting as a lender of last resort to help businesses gain traction in a competitive global marketplace and ensuring manufacturers can compete on a level playing field for years to come.  

Listen to the individuals who are actually on the ground in this fight, not the insulated Beltway interest groups that are championing the bank’s demise as a test of ideological purity.  

Don’t jeopardize our livelihoods by continuing to escalate this standoff. Thousands of other small business owners across this country and I rely on the services of the Ex-Im Bank to accelerate and grow our business every day.

Do the right thing; reauthorize the Bank’s charter and allow us to get back to focusing on what we do best – growing good paying jobs in America.

Wilburn is the chairman and CEO of FirmGreen, Inc, headquartered in Newport Beach, California.


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