July 24. 2014 9:26PM

Export-Import Bank chairman tours NH business

New Hampshire Union Leader

CONCORD — Michael P. Boyle believes the upstart energy services and technology company he founded in 1993 would have become a global competitor without the support of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. But it would have taken longer and it helped that the “U.S. government had my back.”

“It is an incredibly valuable tool for United States small businesses,” Boyle said Thursday of the independent federal agency charged with expanding U.S. exports through credit protection insurance, extending lines of credit to overseas consumers and other financial products.

Founder, chief executive officer and president of Boyle Energy and Service Technology, Boyle hosted Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg, state officials and representatives of other New Hampshire businesses at his Concord company to promote the bank’s virtues at a time when the agency is under attack.

Congress must vote to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank by Sept. 30 or it will expire. Founded 80 years ago by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ex-Im is coming under criticism from Tea Party Republicans for what they call “corporate welfare” for offering taxpayer-backed loans, loan guarantees, export credit insurance and credit protection insurance to companies, including large corporations such as Boeing and General Electric.

But Hochberg said Ex-Im Bank offers its financial products at “no cost to taxpayers” and netted $1.57 billion last year, which it sent to the U.S. Treasury to help reduce the federal deficit.

“We have a particular mandate to reach out to help more small businesses export,” Hochberg said.

“We don’t want someone to lose a sale because of lack of financing,” he added.

Ex-Im Bank helps “fill the gap” when companies cannot obtain conventional financing needed to do business overseas, Hochberg said. It also helps U.S businesses compete against other countries that more aggressively support their export sectors.

In the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, Ex-Im Bank approved more than $27 billion in total authorizations to support an estimated $37.4 billion in U.S. export sales and about 205,000 American jobs, the agency said.

Ex-Im Bank currently supports 34 companies in New Hampshire with a total $145 million in authorizations. The companies reported $359 million in exports related to Ex-Im Bank financing.

Boyle, a Navy veteran who describes himself as a conservative Republican, said small businesses must compete on a global scale to succeed, yet find it difficult to get the financing they need to do business overseas from conventional private lenders.

Boyle Energy and Service Technology provides sustainable engineering, design and commissioning solutions for large power generators, industrial and chemical manufacturing facilities and refineries around the world. It does most of its work in Saudi Arabia. Its largest customers are Fluor Construction Services and General Electric.

Boyle said the credit protection insurance and lines of credit Ex-Im Bank provided were critical to his company’s success and growth. The company, which had about 10 employees in 1993, now has about 60 people working in 17 countries, he said. Exports now account for about 90 percent of sales, he said.

New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation solidly supports reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said Ex-Im Bank “plays a crucial role in our economy and has directly supported New Hampshire business growth through the sale of exports.”

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said the Bank “boosts small and medium-sized business exporters like Boyle Energy while creating jobs in New Hampshire. It’s a source of financing that’s otherwise unavailable for U.S. exporters that allows New Hampshire companies to compete in the global marketplace while returning billions to the Treasury for deficit reduction.”

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat representing the First Congressional District, said Ex-Im Bank “protects jobs and supports American businesses.”

U.S. Rep. Ann M. Kuster, a Democrat representing the Second Congressional District, said “many New Hampshire

businesses rely on (Ex-Im Bank) in order to create jobs for Granite State workers.” Kuster held a roundtable discussed two weeks ago with more than a dozen business leaders to discuss the importance of reauthorizing the bank.

But former New Hampshire House Speaker Republican William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, said he hopes Congress will not reauthorize Ex-Im Bank and the agency will expire.

O’Brien, who is running for re-election for his House seat and as House Speaker, said the Bank is “mismanaged, dysfunctional and has a purpose that goes beyond the constitutionally enumerated powers of the federal government. Additionally, and as a practical matter, it is not needed. Private capital currently is more than adequate to finance 98 percent of the $2.2 trillion in annual U.S. exports and private capital can cover the remainder without Ex-Im Bank involvement.”