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July 7, 2015

D.C. Uncertainty Has a Certain Negative Impact Here at Home

By: Rick Platt

Uncertainty abounds about the future of the U.S. Export-Import Bank known as EXIM. That D.C. uncertainty is certain to have a negative impact on our Ohio economy. In fact, should EXIM disappear forever, it is Ohio’s economy that could suffer the most.

The little-known, yet-long standing agency boosts U.S. exports by providing a platform to support purchase of U.S.-made goods by buyers in less-stable and less-free markets than our own. Nearly 60 countries have some form of an export-import bank in order to make sure their manufacturers have a better shot at exporting product. EXIM, undoubtedly, makes U.S. manufacturers more competitive overseas.

With the inaction by Congress, the bank charter expired at the end of June and is being sustained only by past appropriations. A program providing an 80+ year boost to our economy is in jeopardy.

Opponents have taken a philosophical stance against the federal government having a role in reducing business risks. Some would take a proverbial roll of the dice and just wait to see the impact of removing a major weapon from our economic arsenal. Further, some say private banks should assume this role even though 98% of EXIM transactions involve commercial financial institutions already.

A pragmatic stance makes more sense in a global economy. Jobs should trump philosophy.

Big names like Boeing and GE are part of a supply chain in Ohio that supports more than 2% of our state's Gross State Product. Ohio is Boeing’s #1 supplier state. Thus, Ohioans’ jobs, more than those of any other state, are dependent on the success of exports by Boeing and GE.

Small businesses, by the numbers, are the biggest beneficiaries though. Screen Machine Industries in Etna is a beneficiary of EXIM. Replex Plastics in Mount Vernon is too.

The bank charges fees for its programs and, ironically, has returned billions of dollars to the Treasury and helped to reduce the federal deficit.

The Licking County Chamber of Commerce recently voted to support renewal of the EXIM Bank. Licking County business people have made their support known to House Speaker John Boehner and to our Congressman Pat Tiberi. Governor Kasich has heard from Central Ohio leaders as well.

For my part, I'm thanking Congressman Tiberi for his support. It’s time we put a positive spotlight on a program that has had a positive economic impact.

The Ohio economy is as strong, perhaps, as it’s been in my lifetime. Why let uncertainty risk that?

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