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Businessman says battle in Congress over Export-Import Bank is hurting business

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 24. 2015 10:01PM
Chairman and CEO of General Electric Jeff Immelt left chats with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during a tour of the GE Aviation complex in Hooksett as part of Tuesday's panel discussion on the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Behind Immelt is a GE jet aircraft engine manufactured at the Hooksett plant. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

HOOKSETT — A Merrimack businessman said a fight in Congress over the fate of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which provides financing for business deals abroad, is crimping his energy services business.

“Just when we were getting this thing going, just when we were getting going out all over the planet — we’re in 13 countries tonight, including Saudi Arabia and some of the most difficult places in the world to work — our financing was pulled out from underneath us,” Mike Boyle, CEO of Boyle Energy Services & Technology, said Tuesday during a panel discussion at GE Aviation.

After the event, he said he needs to hire another 10 to 15 workers at a new Merrimack location, which consolidated operations from Manchester and Concord.

“Right now, it’s half-empty,” he said. “We’re trying to fill it.” But “we don’t know what kind of projects we can assume.

More than 65 percent of the company’s revenues come from work with GE turbines, and about half the company’s 60 employees work in New Hampshire.

A congressional fight over fiscal policy has handcuffed the bank’s operations.

“Due to a lapse in EXIM Bank’s authority, as of July 1, 2015, the bank is unable to process applications or engage in new business or other prohibited activities,” said a message on the bank’s website.

Chairman and CEO of General Electric Jeff Immelt, center, tours the new GE building in Hooksett with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is running for President, both pushed for the Senate to support the bank in a Dec. 4 vote.

“There’s parts of the world that are very hard to do business in,” Graham told more than 250 GE workers who make parts for airplane engines. “The Ex-Im Bank allows American manufacturers access to capital and loan guarantees when you can’t find traditional banking to make sure that a product made in America can compete against the world when it comes to the developing world.”

GE CEO Jeff Immelt told workers that more than half the engines are destined for outside the United States.

“We sell our products to everybody in the world, and so more than 60 percent of what you do here is going to be exported, and it’s going to customers in Africa and Europe and the Middle East and Asia and China, and it shows what you can do,” Immelt said.

General Electric workers listen to a panel discussion on export credit and global competitiveness at the GE complex in Hooksett on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Graham said American companies making more deals around the world will increase world security.

“The best thing that America can do is form partnerships economically with people because when you both make money, you’re less likely to shoot each other,” Graham said.

“The products that you make here that are bought in the Mideast not only help you keep your job,” he said. “It literally is changing the world. That’s the way you destroy radical Islam — is give people something to live for and not die for, a job.”

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