Maryland manufacturers are stronger with the Export-Import Bank
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In 1984, my brothers and I started Patton Electronics with just $5,000 each. We were lucky to have a supportive father who helped provide the initial capital, which allowed us to launch a business from our basement. Thirty years later, we’ve expanded the family business to employ 100 people in Gaithersburg, Md., and around the world to support our international sales.

Today, exports make up 65 to 70 percent of our revenue. As a manufacturer of data and telecommunications equipment, we receive orders from over 140 countries, including England, France, Germany, Australia, as well as countries in South Asia and Africa. When orders from customers in other countries first became a considerable part of our business, our bank at the time wasn’t helpful with providing a working-capital line of credit for foreign transactions. That’s when we discovered the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) and their working-capital loan guarantee.

The EXIM Bank helps businesses like Patton sell products internationally by providing loans, loan guarantees, and insurance when commercial banks can’t or won’t provide the same financing. This financing allows U.S. companies to increase sales and provide jobs here in the United States. Over the years, EXIM has had great success ensuring small businesses like mine can enter new markets and effectively compete on the world stage.

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During the last decade, EXIM has supported nearly 2 million American jobs and helped move $290 billion in exports. In recent years, the bank has approved 2,600 small-business deals—nearly 90 percent of the total number of approved deals.

EXIM has earned American taxpayers nearly $10 billion through the interest it charges on loans. This means EXIM is accountable to taxpayers—returning money to the U.S. Treasury, while investing in countless companies and jobs across America.

Currently, there are more than 100 export credit agencies like EXIM around the world. The EXIM Bank has estimated that China provides $130 billion in credit and trade-related financing to bolster its exports, 10 times that of other countries that offer similar financing. This allows China to dominate markets, expand their sphere of influence, and crowd out American companies. Without EXIM, small businesses like Patton will struggle to enter competitive markets, diminishing American economic and national security.

Despite the benefits EXIM Bank has provided to American businesses and taxpayers, its authorization will expire on Nov. 21 unless Congress acts.

Without EXIM, U.S. companies and workers will be left at a significant disadvantage when facing foreign competitors whose governments supply state subsidies and financing for exports.

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Recently, Patton Electronics joined the Coalition for U.S. Jobs to publicly encourage Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. We are partnering with more than 35 small, medium, and large U.S. businesses to ensure that American-made products and workers stay competitive in the global economy.

Thankfully, Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate Foreign Relations chair: 'Best' not to pass Turkey sanctions bill 'at this moment' On The Money: Retirement savings bill blocked in Senate after fight over amendments | Stopgap bill may set up December spending fight | Hardwood industry pleads for relief from Trump trade war MORE (D-Md.) has stepped up for small business and co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the EXIM Bank. S. 2293, which was introduced in July by Sens. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week MORE (R-N.D.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), reauthorizes the bank for 10 years and gives U.S. companies the tools they need to have a fair shot in today’s increasingly competitive trade environment.

Some companies like mine have prepared for the uncertainty that surrounds EXIM in the short term, but only a long-term reauthorization would ensure that all businesses that rely on EXIM’s support aren’t burdened by uncertainty and left without necessary resources. Keeping the EXIM Bank running will not only empower companies to enter new markets but also help cement America’s role as a global economic leader. Congress should do right by U.S. workers and businesses and reauthorize EXIM this fall.

Bobby Patton is President and CEO of Patton Electronics, a Maryland-based manufacturer of unified communications, cloud, and Internet-of-Things enabling solutions for carrier, enterprise and industrial networks.