Grand Rapids Press: On Justin Amash's home turf, Sen. Gary Peters pushes Export-Import Bank

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, MI – Mill Steel Co. had a prospective customer in Mexico. The Grand Rapids-area manufacturer planned to cut coils of steel to the customer's specifications and ship the product over the border, where the steel would get stamped into auto parts.

But the customer's credit history made Mill Steel a bit uneasy about the deal. Enter the federal Export-Import Bank, which backed the trade and made company officers more comfortable selling to the foreign buyer.

"We might have sold them anyway, but probably not because (it's a competitive market) and when you have a credit you're not sure of you're going to raise the price" and maybe not get the deal, said David Samrick, president and CEO of the business on 36th Street SE in Cascade Township.

"(The Ex-Im Bank) does change the environment significantly. It's amazing to me that Michigan congressmen could be against this."

Mill Steel hosted U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, on Friday, June 19, for a press conference urging re-authorization of the 80-year-old federal bank. There's support from President Obama and the U.S. Senate, but not in the U.S. House where two West Michigan members – U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, and U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland – are opposed.

The bank's charter is set to expire at the end of June.

"If the Ex-Im goes away, (the export business it fosters) will be in jeopardy and would have an impact on employment here in the Grand Rapids area," Peters said after touring Mill Steel. "If we let ours go away, we're going to be at a disadvantage" competing against exporters in other countries that have similar banks.

By:  Matt Vande Bunte