WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jim Hirsch, president of Air Tractor, and a board member of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), briefed staff of the U.S. House of Representatives this week on the Export-Import Bank’s importance to small businesses.
Based in Olney, Texas, with about 260 employees, Air Tractor manufactures airplanes used to treat crops and fight fires. The Export-Import Bank helps support about a quarter of the company’s overall sales and has allowed it to grow by developing new markets in places such as Spain and South America, Hirsch said in his remarks.
As a result, sales to non-U.S. customers now account for about 50% of the company’s business, he said.
Because of its small size, Air Tractor is not able to attract financing guarantees from many private banks, making the Export-Import Bank critical to its survival. Air Tractor has used the bank’s credit insurance for 20 years, Hirsch noted.
The bank’s current authorization expires on Sept. 30, 2014. It has provided more than $1 billion in financial services for fixed-wing business airplanes and rotorcraft since 2012. With about 60 other countries utilizing entities similar to the Export-Import Bank, reauthorization will allow U.S. companies to compete on a level playing field globally and keep workers employed.
The briefing was organized by GAMA, the Coalition for Employment through Exports, the Small Business Exporters Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers.
GAMA is an international trade association representing over 80 of the world’s leading manufacturers of general aviation airplanes and rotorcraft, engines, avionics, components and related services. GAMA’s members also operate repair stations, fixed based operations, pilot and maintenance training facilities and manage fleets of aircraft.