Bismarck Tribune: Business group supports reauthorization of Export-Import Bank

bismarckTribune200The Dakota Defense Alliance, a nonprofit group representing a number of North Dakota businesses, wants Congress to keep the Export-Import Bank and its benefits. “Exports have been huge for North Dakota,” said the group’s director, Dickinson
businesswoman Kristin Hedger, adding that selling items overseas gives companies a larger market.

The Export-Import Bank, a federal credit agency, finances and insures foreign purchases of U.S. goods to reduce risk that private lenders may not want to take on with emerging trade partners.

“The overall benefit is that more than $100 million comes back into our state, and it’s largely due just to the opportunities afforded by the support and stability of the Export-Import Bank,” Hedger said, comparing the Export-Import Bank to the Bank of North Dakota and the funding guarantees it provides to state businesses.

Defense Alliance represents about 40 companies, many in the agriculture machinery business. The organization supports efforts by North Dakota’s congressional delegation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which expires at the end of June.

About 2,000 North Dakota companies export products from the state. Hedger said the bank provides opportunities for entrepreneurs as well as existing businesses, such as RDO and Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, looking for emerging markets.

The Export-Import Bank has financed $102 million worth of North Dakota exports since 2007, with about $25 million in sales from North Dakota companies since 2012. The state’s top three export destinations for Export-Import Bank projects are Cyprus, Ukraine and Mexico.

CEO of the Fargo-based agriculture machinery manufacturer Amity Technology, Howard Dahl, joined Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., in 2014 calling for the bank’s continuation. The Export-Import Bank has helped support more than $8 million in export sales at Amity, the company said in a statement.

“Over the past decade, we have sold almost $300 million of product in foreign markets,” Dahl said. “More than 30 percent of our jobs in North Dakota are export driven. Our main competitors are European companies who have very aggressive financing plans from their governments. It would be ideal for government-supported export financing to be unnecessary, but, to compete on a level playing field, it is necessary and successful. It can make the difference in getting a sale or not …. Additionally, the agency has been extremely responsive to small businesses like ours as we have continued to grow with its support.”

According to a story by the Associated Press, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has promised to bring the bank’s re-authorization up for a vote in June.

“This Congress has jumped from one deadline to the next on a common-sense agency that boosts our small businesses and local economies not only in North Dakota — but across the country — at no additional cost to the American taxpayer,” Heitkamp said in a

The Export-Import Bank does all of its work at no cost to taxpayers and generated more than $1 billion for the U.S. Treasury in 2013.

Other companies that have benefited include Titan Machinery, Case New Holland, Kringstad Ironworks in Park River, Puretec International in Valley City and WCCO Belting in Wahpeton. In western North Dakota, JM Grain Inc. of Garrison received aid in 2011.