Mr. President, I wish to first commend Senator Landrieu for her great leadership. It is true we share this river, and when you see all the barges go down the river every day, you see the trade and the export firsthand that we are talking about. I am focused on the export end, but I wish to give my support to the lending part of this. It is so important, and Senator Landrieu, as head of the Small Business Committee, has worked on it incredibly hard.

When we discussed this idea last year of small business lending, I went around to a number of my small businesses and I heard time and time again how much this would be helpful for them. I think it is summed up by a letter I got from Bertha, MN. My colleagues may not have heard of it. It is not exactly a metropolis. This letter is from a guy named Harry Wahlquist of Star Bank in Bertha, MN. This is what he wrote just a few weeks ago. He said:

"I am a banker and need capital to continue serving my nine Minnesota towns. Please pass the small business lending bill now. You gave money to Wall Street. How about Main Street in Minnesota?"

I think it has been said that Wall Street might have caught a cold, but Main Street got pneumonia. There are still many issues out there, and a lot of it could be helped to create private sector jobs by simply allowing credit out there and more loans.

The other piece of this which Senator Landrieu and my other great colleague from the Commerce Committee, Senator LeMieux, mentioned was exports. I became very interested in this because my State is now seventh in the country for Fortune 500 companies. We are 21st in population, but we have a strong and thriving business community that believes in exports and believes in innovation. We brought the world everything from the Post It note to the pacemaker. While all of these things did not start at the big companies, these big companies started in garages—companies such as Medtronic, in Two Harbors, MN, or little sandpaper companies such as 3M. They all started small. Sixty-five percent of the jobs in this country are due to small business. Yet these small businesses, which now see this world of opportunity out there for them—95 percent of the jobs in America—95 percent of the customers for America, for American businesses, are outside of our borders.

Unlike 3M or Medtronic, great Minnesota companies—or Best Buy—that can have people working internally on these issues to identify markets, a little company in Benson, MN, isn’t going to be able to have a full-time person looking at where they can sell their products. They still have managed to do it, and a lot of them have been able to do it by working directly with the Commerce Department. These are not little companies that necessarily are big government guys. These are people who are conservative businessmen or businesswomen who went out there and said: Well, how am I going to figure out where I can sell my product around the world when I don’t speak the languages. I don’t have a trade person.

My favorite example is a company called Matt Trucks in northern Minnesota, population 900, the moose capital of our State.

A little second grader named Matt was in school and he came home to his dad and he drew a picture of a truck. The truck had wheels and he put a bunch of tracks on each of the wheels of the truck. His dad said: Matt, that is really cute. But as you have seen on TV, the tracks go between the wheels.

This little kid said: No, Dad. This would be a lot better because you can put the tracks on the wheels and take them out and use it as a regular truck.

His dad is a mechanic. He went into the shop and created this truck and these tracks. Then he started a company that he called MATTRACKS, after his second grader. They have about five employees. They are chugging along.

One day the dad went to Fargo, ND, which is the region of the Commerce Department that serves part of Minnesota, and he talked to a woman named Heather. She is with the Federal Government. He went to her for help. She looked on her computer and identified some markets and called the embassies where he could sell this truck. Now, due to exports, due to the fact that they are exporting to dozens of countries, from Kazakhstan to Carlton, MN, they have 55 employees, all because of exports.

We have seen this all over our State. That is why Senator LeMieux and I came together to introduce a bill to focus on exports for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Do my colleagues know that 30 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses would like to export more, but they simply don’t know how to do it? Well, this amendment helps to fill the gap and assist U.S. businesses that are looking to export their products but do not have the resources or the know-how to find new international customers.

The program focuses on locating and targeting new markets, the mechanics of exporting, including shipping, documentation, and financing, and the creation of business plans. This amendment is projected to create 43,000 jobs. It would do this by making sure this U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, which assists small- and medium-sized businesses, is able to carry out its mission to work with these businesses by having adequate staff.

Secondly, it expands the rural export initiative, which helps rural businesses develop international opportunities. As noted by my Republican colleague, Senator LeMieux, the numbers are clear. Every dollar invested in this program creates $213 in rural exports.

This part of the small business amendment that Senator Landrieu is putting together allows the Department of Commerce to identify known exporters that have a capacity to grow their international sales. A business that has already been exporting to Canada or Mexico something like 50 or 60 percent of its business only exports to those countries—it allows them to look for other countries. It provides matching grants to industry associations and nonprofit institutions to underwrite a portion of the startup costs for new export promotion projects.

This is real jobs. We all know that we helped our country from going off the financial cliff. We did that with the stimulus package and by building new roads and bridges. The way out of this economic slump will be with private business expanding and with jobs. The way you do it is look across the borders and see where you can sell your goods. They have been selling goods to us, right? I want the United States to be a country again that makes goods and sends our goods to other countries. That is what this piece of the bill is about.

I am grateful to Senator Landrieu and for the leadership she included in this package. I thank Senator LeMieux for his leadership on this amendment. I hope we pass this bill. It is incredibly important.