Past SBEA Chair Testifies Before Congress

David Ickert, of Air Tractor, Inc. in Olney, Texas and a former chair of the Small Business Exporters Association (SBEA)—the international trade arm of NSBA—recently testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade. The hearing, “The Role of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) in the U.S. Competitiveness and Job Creation” highlighted how various companies of differing sizes have benefited from Ex-Im Bank’s programs.

The only small business represented on the panel, Ickert described how his company, Air Tractor, Inc., has benefitted from lending and insurance programs through Ex-Im Bank. Through Ex-Im Bank’s Medium Term Credit Insurance coverage and the Working Capital Guarantee program, Air Tractor has been able to drastically increase their international customer base from 10 percent in 1995 to 56 percent in 2010.

“Ex-Im Bank’s programs enable us to take a good product further than we would have been able to alone,” stated Ickert. “During 2010, we exported to 14 different countries. As a small company in a very small town, Ex-Im Bank has often been the only option available to us and has become our preferred partner in export finance.”

Ickert went on to describe Air Tractor’s initial application process with Ex-Im Bank back in 1995 as difficult and bureaucratic. Since that time, however, Ickert has said both his understanding of the process, and the process itself has improved. He stated that Ex-Im Bank could further ease the process by identifying first-time applicants and giving them personalized guidance during their first application process, and by seeking constructive feedback from these first-time applicants following the conclusion of the process.

“With 56 percent export sales in 2010, there are over 100 employees at Air Tractor that owe their jobs to exporting,” said Ickert. “Fortunately, Chairman Hochberg places a strong emphasis on small-business exporting, but it hasn’t always been that way amongst the leadership at Ex-Im Bank. That emphasis needs to be institutionalized so that small business is always a focal point at Ex-Im Bank, regardless of who is at the helm.”

Mr. Ickert is currently serving as the treasurer on NSBA’s Board of Trustees and continues to provide leadership and expertise to SBEA. NSBA and SBEA applaud Chairman Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) for holding this hearing to focus on the important role Ex-Im Bank plays for America’s small- and mid-sized exporters.