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Nevada Businesses In Limbo Without Export-Import Bank

Almost a month ago, lawmakers quietly let the little known Export Import Bank die.

The move was a political victory for Republican conservatives in Congress, who long argued the bank does what private investors should be doing.

However, Terry Culp, the deputy director of Nevada Industry Excellence, told KNPR's State of Nevada that the Ex-Im Bank helps companies when they cannot get lines of credit from commercial banks. 

“They really fill an important niche especially since 9/11 when the world became a little more unstable and commercial banks really shied away from export initiatives,” Culp explained.

Steve Bash, senior vice president of the International Banking Group for City National Bank, also takes issue with the idea that the Ex-Im Bank is doing a job the private sector should be doing. 

“It's not really about 'we versus them.'” the banking executive explained. “The private sector isn’t typically in competition with the federal government. We’re partners in these transactions.”  

Rex Jones, the chief financial officer for Sable Systems International, a North Las Vegas company that had a line of credit set up with the bank to pay for an anticipated growth surge, said the bank wasn't 'corporate welfare' but a vital business tool.

“America very much enjoy seeing small business succeed and I think this program has shown that 90 percent of its benefit has gone to small businesses,” Jones said.

The death of the bank has sparked anger among Southern Nevada businesses who say they are at a competitive disadvantage.

Culp said 32 Nevada exporters “some of them are right here in Southern Nevada that employee southern Nevadans” have been helped by the bank to the tune of $165 million. 

Those who make their living off of exports and imports say they are going to be hurt because their rivals overseas still have access to such financial support.

For example, Culp said a similar bank in France provides twice the support to Airbus as the U.S. government does to Boeing, creating barriers for the airplane manufacturer.

Former Congressman James Bilbray served on the Ex-Im Bank advisory board. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that the demise of the bank puts American companies at a "big competitive disadvantage."

Bilbray also said because the bank is a government agency it can use the full weight and force of the U.S. government to leverage foreign businesses. 

“It’s been very successful," Bilbray said. "They are good people and they work very hard and they make money for the government.”

One of the other arguments against the bank is that it costs the government money.

In an op-ed for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Director for Americans for Prosperity Adam Jonessaid the bank "loses taxpayer money, picks winners and losers in the economy and endangers American jobs."

Culp strongly disagreed with that and said over the last two years the bank has poured $1.2 billion into the U.S. Treasury and helps improve the country's trade deficit.

Bash couldn't understand that argument against the Ex-Im Bank either.

“It has become a political battle not based on real substantive facts and I don’t think there is any merit to the argument that this costs tax payers money quite the opposite it provides jobs, it provides surplus funds to the U.S. Treasury,” Bash stated.

Culp also believes the fight is a political one. He said in years past the reauthorization of the bank was a "no-brainer" with bipartisan support.

“And when it comes to the welfare of the U.S. economy and the people in America, they are taking a back seat to this contentious atmosphere,” he said. 

Culp has gone as far as to remind first-term Republican Congressman Cresent Hardy in a letter, “your positive support of Ex-Im will probably have a positive impact on your re-election effort.”

Culp said he hoped his strong words were a "wake up call" because “its going to have a direct impact on the companies in his [Hardy's] district.”

He has also sent letters to Republican Congressman Joe Heck. 

Terry Culp, deputy director, Nevada Industry Excellence; Rex Jones, CFO, Sable Systems International; Steve Bash, senior vice president, International Banking Group, City National Bank

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