WASHINGTON – United States Senators Mary Landrieu, Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and David Vitter, along with Congressmen Rodney Alexander, Charlie Melancon, Charles Boustany, Steve Scalise, Ahn “Joseph” Cao, Bill Cassidy and John Fleming, today sent a letter to the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Fred P. Hochberg, requesting he open a regional office of the organization in New Orleans.

“Despite the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana has experienced a tremendous growth in trade activity during the last five years,” the delegation wrote in the letter. “For example, in 2008 alone, Louisiana exported nearly $41.9 billion dollars worth of goods and services, representing a 38 percent increase from 2007, more than triple the national export growth rate for that year. The establishment of an Export-Import Bank regional office would build upon excellent existing resources in New Orleans and provide the Gulf South region with much needed Export-Import Bank presence in the coming years.”

In June, Senator Landrieu convened a field hearing at the Port of New Orleans to examine small business trade opportunities. The Chairman of the Export-Import Bank noted, at the time, that the organization would have the tools to open one regional office in the country. A preliminary review of possible locations in high-export locations cited New Orleans as a top contender.

“The opening of a regional office in Louisiana would prove to be an easy transition given the presence Export-Import Bank already has in the state,” the Members continued in the letter. “In 2008, the Bank supported more than $19,351,000 in insurance policies and over $18,693,776 in working capital to Louisiana businesses. Our state’s vibrant small business community accounts for 84 percent of all exporting companies in Louisiana and they have also benefited tremendously from the Bank’s programs, receiving $13,949,437 in term loans and guarantees from the Bank.

“In closing, we note that currently the Bank covers the Gulf South region out of its Florida and Texas based offices. A regional office in New Orleans would be a logical and efficient hub focused on commerce in the Gulf South region. Furthermore, Louisiana’s rail system and five deepwater ports along the lower Mississippi River form a strategic commercial corridor, connecting Louisiana to more than 30 states located in the heartland of the United States.”

Just this week, Senator Landrieu introduced two trade-related pieces of legislation with Ranking Member Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the “Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act” (S. 2862) and the “Small Business Trade Representation Act.” Details of the legislation can be viewed by clicking here.

To view more information from the Small Business Committee Trade field hearing in New Orleans, please click here.

To view a copy of the letter sent to the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, please click here.