Past SBEA Chair Testifies Before Senate Panel

David Ickert, National Small Business Association (NSBA) treasurer and past chair of the Small Business Exporters Association (SBEA) testified last week before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Security and International Trade and Finance. Ickert, of Air Tractor, Inc. in Olney, Texas, has been an outspoken advocate for growing export opportunities for small businesses, and testified to the importance of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im Bank) to facilitate such growth.

A recipient of Ex-Im Bank’s medium term credit insurance, Air Tractor has expanded their operations significantly since 1995 when they first sought support from Ex-Im. Today, Ickert expects the company to complete 30 such deals through Ex-Im in 2011 alone.

“Our work with Ex-Im has enabled Air Tractor to expand beyond U.S. borders and build a strong, diverse clientele overseas,” stated Ickert. “Ex-Im made it possible for us to sell our agricultural and firefighting airplanes globally, which continues to be a win-win for us and our clients.”

In the last four years, Air Tractor not only has increased their exports, they have created new jobs—from 165 in 2007 to 220 today. Despite the downturned economy, exporting has provided growth opportunities similar to Air Tractor’s for companies across the U.S.

Ickert went on to praise Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred P. Hochberg for his efforts to maintain focus on, and craft a long-term commitment to small business. This, however, has not always been the case, and as such, Ickert—along with SBEA and NSBA—are urging Congress to continue to institutionalize the Ex-Im small-business commitment. Specifically, any Ex-Im Bank reauthorizing language ought to expressly state that not less than 20 percent of Ex-Im’s direct financing authority shall be used specifically for small business.

Other small-business provisions critical for inclusion in Ex-Im reauthorization legislation include: a mandate that the Advisory Committee includes at least three small-business representatives; a requirement that Ex-Im Bank officials shall report to Congress if the small-business financing minimum isn’t met; an appointment of the Senior Vice President for Small Business to Ex-Im Bank’s credit committee; and the approval of adequate administrative dollars to address the growing need for Ex-Im products and assistance.

Click here to read Ickert’s full testimony.

Click here for more news on Ex-Im Bank reauthorization.