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Rep. Ryan Zinke stood up to special interests and voted on behalf of hardworking Montanans by supporting the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Most people have never heard of the Ex-Im Bank, a program that helps companies sell U.S.-made goods by offering financing options to customers overseas. Unfortunately, the bank has become an easy target for critics. While the bank was in need of reforms, they have thrown the baby out with the bath water by distorting the bank’s record and ending its charter. However, the real world numbers tell a different story.

International trade supports over 137,000 jobs in Montana. Between 2004-2013, trade related jobs grew 2.7 times faster than total employment. With more and more Montanan jobs relying increasingly on exports, it does not make sense to take away the Ex-Im Bank, one of the best tools businesses have to compete in the international market.

Small businesses benefit

I can attest to this firsthand, because my business is one of the Montana success stories that has grown thanks to the Ex-Im Bank. At Montana Precision Products, we produce jet engine components such as tubes, ducts and small structural castings for GE jet engines. So when customers overseas use the Ex-Im Bank to buy GE engines, it not only helps GE, it helps small businesses like ours, too. We have about 115 employees and are expecting to grow over the next four years. This growth could be stifled if Ex-Im is not reauthorized.

Critics of Ex-Im claim that it only helps big businesses. Montana Precision Products is proof that they are wrong. In fact, nearly 90 percent of the transactions Ex-Im finances support small businesses. When large businesses benefit from the bank, so do the hundreds of smaller businesses throughout their supply chain. For every large piece of equipment — an engine, a bulldozer or a satellite — there are thousands of components sourced from smaller companies. It’s easy to demonize “big corporations” without realizing small businesses like Montana Precision Products are the backbone that supports them.

$5.9B loss without loans

Since the bank's charter lapsed on June 30, 1,077 loans have gone unauthorized (917 for small businesses) resulting in a $5.9 billion loss in financial support to U.S. companies and their employees, according to the American Action Forum. Without Ex-Im support, both large and small businesses across the country are being left high and dry due to political intransigence.

This is especially frustrating considering that the bank provides these benefits at no cost to taxpayers. Not only does Ex-Im support U.S. jobs and help businesses, but it does so while returning money to the Treasury, helping pay down the deficit. Last year, the Bank returned $675 million to the taxpayers. If you say you’re concerned about the deficit, this is the last thing you should cut.

The good news for job creators and taxpayers is that Ex-Im reauthorization is almost complete thanks to leaders like Zinke. Now, Congress needs to send a bill to the president’s desk. When he signs it, Montana businesses and workers will be able to get back to what we do best: building and exporting made-in-America products.

Mike Robins, of Seattle, is chairman of the Board of Montana Precision Products, a business in Butte.