Boosting Ohio-Made Products, Creating Ohio Jobs

Ohio workers can compete with anyone in the world. And, every day, at places like Nook Industries in Cuyahoga County, Middletown Tube Works in Butler County, and Crown Battery in Sandusky County, Ohio workers are making goods used all over the world.

Ohio has had quicker increases in job growth than other states, and we know the manufacturing sector nationally has gained back some 470,000 jobs since January 2010. That’s good news, but we can do even better.

One way we can speed up our economic recovery is to help Ohio companies find new markets for their products by selling them around the world. We know that companies that export their products around the world create jobs, pay higher wages to employees, and are more likely to stay in business. Export-supported manufacturing jobs already account for an estimated 7.1 percent of Ohio’s total private-sector employment. More than one-fourth of manufacturing workers in Ohio depend on exports for their jobs – the 8th highest percentage among the 50 states.

That’s why the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank is so important.

Ex-Im Bank – the federal agency that helps companies sell their products around the world – provides American businesses with essential trade financing at no cost to taxpayers. By providing loans, guarantees, and insurance, Ex-Im Bank helps Ohio manufacturers enter foreign markets obtaining new international customers and creating new jobs here in Ohio. It does all of this while creating revenue for the U.S. Treasury.

Last week, I joined the head of the Ohio Manufacturers Association (OMA) to call for the reauthorization of Ex-Im, which will no longer be able to help Ohio companies if Congress does not act by May 31. OMA’s Eric Burkland discussed how Ex-Im Bank financing helped Nook Industries ship goods to new customers in China, Korea, and Israel. He noted that because of Ex-Im financing, Middletown Tube now sells steel tubes to customers in Spain and Portugal. And Crown Battery has been able to hire new assemblers, technicians, and engineers.

Despite this record of success, Ohio exports and American jobs are at risk because some in Congress cannot agree to reauthorize the Ex-Im bank. 

Exporting is tough, especially for small businesses. Less than one percent of the nation’s nearly 26 million small businesses export their products. In more than 200 roundtables I’ve held throughout the state and in meetings in the nation’s capitol, I hear from Ohio small business owners who want to expand and access foreign markets, but due to the credit risks associated with some overseas investments these entrepreneurs cannot secure private financing.

That’s why the Export-Import Bank matters. In 2011 alone, the Ex-Im Bank worked with nearly 100 Ohio businesses to support $429.5 million in export sales.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, Ex-Im supports 290,000 export-related jobs, and more than 85 percent of Ex-Im’s transactions supported small businesses last year.  Renewing the Bank’s charter should be a cause that all Senators support – and the Senate has unanimously reauthorized the agency 25 times since it was established in 1934.

This isn’t a political issue; it’s a matter of American jobs and global competitiveness.

We face a trade deficit with China of about $295 billion in 2011, meaning that we import more Chinese products than we export. China’s Export-Import and Development Banks provide as much as $100 billion in export credits each year, which is more than three times as many new export credits as the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

For Ohio workers in places like Cleveland, Middletown, and Fremont, reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank is a top priority. Reauthorizing the bank should also be a top priority for Congress.