Less than a week after GE announced it’s moving hundreds
of jobs from its Waukesha facility to Canada, Mayor
Shawn Reilly called on Wisconsin’s representatives in
Washington to re-authorize the Export-Import Bank to
help prevent similar job cuts in the future.
multinational conglomerate cited the bank’s dissolution
as its main reason for pulling 350 jobs from the GE
Power & Water building on St. Paul Avenue and moving
them into a yet-to-be constructed facility north of the
border sometime within the next 18 months.
In a letter sent to the Wisconsin
Congressional Delegation last Friday, Reilly called
Congress’ inability to re-authorize the bank
“It is an essential tool that allows
American companies to compete on a global scale,” he
wrote. “The lack of action is reducing the U.S.’s global
competitiveness and hurting communities, like Waukesha,
The letter was also copied to Gov. Scott
Walker, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, the
Waukesha Common Council and House Speaker John Boehner.
GE says it’s bidding on $11 billion worth
of projects that require export financing. The company
decided to begin negotiations with Canada - in
particular its credit agency, Export Development Canada
- following the decision not to re-authorize the Ex-Im
Canada is among about 60 countries
globally with export credit agencies that support
domestic manufacturing for export.
Reilly said GE’s decision is terrible
news for the city, which will soon see one of its
longest-standing manufacturers go idle. He believes the
problem will continue to grow as businesses that rely on
exports from Wisconsin will find more competitive
financial conditions in foreign countries.
The mayor pointed to a discharge petition
currently being circulated in the House of
Representatives as a possible solution to the issue.
“This is not a liberal or conservative
issue,” Reilly wrote. “This is a common sense measure
that makes America more competitive abroad. The
Export-Import Bank supports American companies both
large and small, which help provide good jobs to
If the petition receives enough
signatures, the Ex-Im Bank could be brought to the House
floor for a vote.
Farrow and Reilly, along with the
Waukesha County Business Alliance and the Wisconsin
Economic Development Corporation, are expected to meet
with GE to discuss the matter later this month.
City Administrator Kevin Lahner
highlighted Reilly’s work during Tuesday night’s Common
Council meeting, saying the mayor has been striving to
coordinate efforts between the city, county and
governor’s office in hopes of convincing GE to reverse
Despite those efforts, GE spokesman Shaun
Wiggins said following the company’s announcement last
week that “there was no way to reverse the decision,”
adding that it could not “be undone once made.”
In his written report to the council,
Lahner acknowledged that although it may be too late for
Waukesha to save the jobs at GE, “we feel (the Ex-Im
Bank) is an important issue that may impact both
Waukesha and the state in the near future.”