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*-- Obama pushes for reauthorized Export-Import Bank charter --*

WASHINGTON (UPI) - President Barack Obama will meet with small- and medium-sized business owners Wednesday in an effort to pressure Congress to reauthorize the charter for a governmental agency that finances exports from the United States.

The charter for the Export-Import Bank expired on June 30 after vocal debate and opposition from House and Senate GOP conservatives. Critics say the Depression-era agency gives corporate handouts to large companies that do not need the money, including Caterpillar, Boeing and General Electric. But the White House attempts to undercut the argument by showcasing smaller businesses that have benefited.

"The Export-Import Bank is a critical tool in the bipartisan trade agenda that helps U.S. businesses succeed in global markets and grow their exports. Ex-Im equips companies with financing they need to go toe-to-toe with foreign rivals, resulting in more exports and more well-paying jobs in cities and towns here in America, rather than overseas," the White House said.

Among those who will meet with Obama is Susan Axelrod, president of Love & Quiches in Freeport, N.Y. Axelrod said her business, which exports baked goods, depends on support from Ex-Im. She said if the charter is not reauthorized, the United States will lose its exporting power.

"China and other exporting countries are chomping at the bit to take that business," she said, adding as much as 30 percent of her business comes from overseas markets.

Others meeting with Obama include:

- Donald Daviess, co-founder, Tri-Tech Medical, Avon, Ohio

- Mary Howe, president, Howe Corporation, Chicago, Ill.

- David Ickert, vice president of finance, AirTractor, Olney, Texas

- Susan Jaime, Founder, Ferra Coffee, San Antonio, Texas

- Dan Roberts, president and general manager, Manhasset Specialty Company, Yakima, Wash.

- Jim Rutkowski, Jr., general manager, industrial sales and manufacturing, Erie, Pa.

- Paul Sullivan, vice president of international business development, Acrow Bridges, Parsippany, N.J.

-John "Trey" Winthrop, vice president of Finance, Bob's Red Mill, Milwaukie, Ore.


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