Cantwell Hosts Seattle Chamber in Senate Roundtable on Job Creation

Seattle Chamber Participated in Discussion with Senate Democrats Highlighting Ongoing Efforts to Create Jobs and Boost Economies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today during a Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee meeting in the U.S. Capitol building, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and more than 10 local and state Chambers of Commerce from around the country for a roundtable discussion on job creation. The meeting highlighted how Senate Democrats and local chambers have successfully worked together to support policies which spur economic growth and job creation in communities across America.

Cantwell invited George Allen, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, to share Puget Sound business perspectives at today’s meeting. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other U.S. Senators attended the meeting. Click here to view photos from today’s roundtable discussion.

“It’s a pleasure to have the Seattle Chamber of Commerce join us today all the way from the Pacific Northwest,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, member of the Senate Small Business Committee. “We are focused on growing our economy and expanding opportunities for the nation’s job creators to grow and hire. Just today, I introduced an amendment with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to reauthorize the Export-Import bank and support Washington state trade and export jobs. We heard a lot of good ideas today and I look forward to taking them back to the Small Business Committee as we continue to work on ways to spur economic growth on Main Street.”

The Cantwell-Schumer amendment would extend the Export-Import (Ex-Im) bank’s lending authority until 2015 and increase the bank's financing limit by $40 billion. Unless Congress acts in the coming weeks, the bank—which helps U.S. exporters facilitate trade deals—will hit its lending cap and see its charter lapse. Increasing the bank’s financing limit, from $100 billion to $140 billion, would allow the bank to guarantee more loans to companies that buy exports from Washington state and U.S. companies.

As an example of how local Chambers are unique in their efforts to understand and advocate for the needs of local businesses, the Seattle Chamber conducts an annual Job Sector Survey. Nearly 1,700 employers in the Puget Sound took part in the current survey which speaks directly to the needs of nearly every type and size of business in the Puget Sound region. Critical issues of importance to the Chamber’s members’ business growth include transportation and infrastructure, education and workforce readiness, innovation and entrepreneurship, and international trade. Allen was in D.C. today to share survey results with key Democrat U.S. Senators.

“We believe that trade creates jobs, particularly when domestic demand is still recovering and 96 percent of customers live outside the United States,” said George Allen, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Government Relations. “Our survey of regional businesses backs this up: we found that our top four export sectors, which are aerospace, manufacturing, life sciences, and energy, all plan to add jobs in the coming year. The Ex-Im Bank is a vital resource for our state’s internationally focused companies.”

Since 2007, the bank has provided $26.7 billion in loans to 168 exporters in Washington state, resulting in $60.3 billion in sales. Of these 168 exporters, 122 were small businesses, 11 were minority-owned businesses and 12 were women-owned businesses. To see a full list of the companies in Washington state, click here.

The potential for Ex-Im to help Washington state small businesses to create jobs is so great that that the bank recently announced that it would open a branch in Seattle, Washington. The goal of opening this new branch is helping small businesses get more access to the bank’s financing.

Allen continued: “Like most business organizations, our top priority is ensuring that goods and people get to where they need to go in a reliable, efficient and timely manner. Congestion relief, freight mobility and effective multi-model transportation are vital for businesses of all sizes and for our quality of life. We think it is essential to include a national freight investment policy in the federal surface transportation reauthorization bill.”

Cantwell fought to include her freight mobility provisions in the surface transportation bill, which passed today in the Senate by a 74-22 vote. Her provisions establish America’s first comprehensive national freight transportation policy to ready the nation’s freight transportation system to support economic growth and job creation, as well as develop a freight strategic plan that identifies emerging and long-term freight trends and prioritizes freight corridors to be improved. Freight mobility is especially important to Washington state, which exported more per capita than any other state in the nation last year.

In early January of this year, Cantwell visited three ports in Washington state – the Port of Seattle, Port of Pasco and the Port of Vancouver – to highlight local freight mobility improvement projects that would create jobs and make the movement of goods more efficient in and around the ports. Along the way, Cantwell called for Senate action on her key freight provisions.

Cantwell, a member of the Senate Small Business and Finance committees, has long championed measures that get businesses hiring and investing again. She played a leading role in authoring and championing the Small Business Jobs Act (SBJA), a measure helping small businesses create and preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs through tax incentives and expanded private-sector lending. Also included in the SBJA was the Small Business Lending Fund, which Cantwell championed to encourage small business growth through increased access to lending capital.