Black Chamber: Ex-Im has done nothing for us

The National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is attacking the Obama administration's financing agencies for not doing enough to help black businesses.

NBCC President Harry Alford testified in the Senate on Tuesday that Export-Import Bank officials have ignored his requests for information on how the bank is working with African-American businesses.


"The Export-Import Bank wanted our help because they've been de-authorized and I've asked them to give me one loan they have made to a black business anywhere in this world," Alford said. "I've been waiting six months for that answer. They don't do it — we are on our own.”

Alford's comments come as Ex-Im officials have sought in recent months to portray the lapsed bank as an engine for small American businesses.

"We haven’t asked Harry Alford of NBCC or anyone for help," said a spokesperson for the bank.

Bank officials pointed to their financing of Northrock Enterprises and Equip XP as two examples of them financing African American-owned businesses. Northrock received the bank's "Minority Exporter of the Year Award" in 2015 and received nearly $1 million in Ex-Im financing support, according to the bank.

Part of Ex-Im's congressional mandate is to support minority- and women-owned businesses. Since 2009, Ex-Im has financed more projects for minorities and women than it did during the previous 16 years combined, according to the bank.

Conservatives successfully blocked Ex-Im from being reauthorized on June 30, arguing that the federally backed bank is a form of "corporate welfare" for big firms such as Boeing, General Electric and Caterpillar.

The business community could still see a victory over conservatives, however, with Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) working on a discharge petition that would force a vote on the House floor in the coming weeks.

Alford also said that Small Business Administration (SBA) officials haven't financed enough business projects for African-Americans.

Alford told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing that SBA officials "won't even print their numbers" for how many loans they've given to black businesses "because they're so ashamed."

"They've locked it up," Alford said.

—Updated at 6:56 p.m.