Certain foes of Ex-Im Bank have claimed that it only benefits a handful of companies, and that no one else would notice if Congress allows its charter to expire on September 30. But the economic impact of Ex-Im Bank is far broader than its ideological foes are willing to admit, extending deep into the supply chains of the larger companies. Many of the Bank’s indirect beneficiaries are unaware of its importance to their business.
To show the indirect impact of Ex-Im Bank, today we are holding a roundtable discussion with business leaders in North Carolina, where a concentration of the U.S. nuclear supply chain represents a vital part of the state and regional economy. A 2013 study conducted by Clemson University valued the direct and indirect impact of the nuclear supply chain in the Carolinas at $20 billion, employing 29,000 people.
Lindsey Crisp, CEO of Carver Machine Works in Washington, North Carolina, had never heard of Ex-Im Bank until eight months ago. “I thought Ex-Im was a satellite radio station,” he admitted.
But Carver, which manufactures pressure vessels for nuclear power plants, had begun selling to international customers. Mr. Crisp learned that U.S. banks must count foreign accounts receivable against a credit line, risking his ability to meet regular expenses like payroll. Ex-Im, he learned, offered a guarantee that freed his working capital.
Then Mr. Crisp learned that one of his major customers, GE Hitachi, needed Ex-Im Bank support just to comply with bidding requirements for international nuclear plant tenders.
The market for North Carolina’s nuclear supply chain is increasingly international. Only five of the 72 new nuclear power plants under construction worldwide are in the United States. An additional 172 plants are in the licensing and advanced planning stages. Virtually all of them will be built abroad, where the demand for reliable, affordable and clean baseload electricity is growing.
If Congress is serious about creating well-paying American jobs, it must act immediately to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank, one of the most important tools for creating U.S. jobs through exports. Small nuclear suppliers like Carver Machine Works, as well as their larger U.S. and international customers, depend on it.