Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg visits Concord tech business to promote reauthorization
In a perfect world, America wouldn’t need the federal Export-Import Bank, Chairman Fred Hochberg said yesterday.
“But I haven’t found that perfect world yet. We don’t live in that perfect world and U.S. companies . . . face intense foreign competition backed by their own governments. And if we want to keep Americans working, we’re going to have to match that,” he said.
Hochberg spoke to about 30 New Hampshire small-business executives at Boyle Energy Services & Technology in Concord, a company that has received more than $25 million in support from the bank this year.
Mike Boyle, president and CEO of the company, hosted the event to give Hochberg a chance to defend the bank and encourage other businesses in the area to support its reauthorization. Boyle also serves on the bank’s advisory committee.
In the past 10 years, he has restructured his business to focus almost entirely on exports, growing from 10 employees in 2003 to about 60 worldwide today, including about 15 in New Hampshire, he said. The company’s disbursements from the Export-Import Bank are mostly in credit protection to help him secure private financing by insuring his foreign projects, he said.
The bank’s charter is due to expire at the end of September, unless it’s reauthorized by Congress.
When Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, took over as House Majority Leader, he said he wouldn’t support reauthorizing the bank’s charter when it comes up for a vote at the end of September.
While more than 40 House Republicans support continuing the bank’s charter, McCarthy’s support is crucial and his resistance is shared by other party leaders in the chamber.
Slightly more than 20 percent of the bank’s disbursements – about $956 million – go to small businesses. Critics of the bank often call it corporate welfare, pointing to the large companies like Boeing and Caterpillar that benefit.
“So what?” Boyle said to that criticism. “If small businesses like ourselves can expand and go around the world and do good work and create good jobs, so what? . . . I don’t know if it was Day One, if I would support this out of the box,” he said, noting that he is a conservative Republican. “What I know is now, it is an incredibly valuable tool to the United States small businesses. There is a global economic competition worldwide with other businesses. At the moment, so long as it remains ethical, so long as it remains practical, and continues to make money and doesn’t become completely ‘cronyized,’ it’s really doing a good job.”
Hochberg and Boyle urged the roughly 30 other New Hampshire business representatives to make their voices heard in support of the effort. So did Hollis entrepreneur Kedar Gupta, CEO of GT Solar, which was the bank’s 2005 Small Business Environmental Exporter of the Year. It’s now GT Advanced Technologies, and Gupta is investing in and working with other companies.
U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte both support reauthorization. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster are both co-sponsors of legislation in the House to reauthorize it.