Stolle’s Saudi deal saves jobs

Centennial equipment manufacturer Stolle Machinery says a $34 million contract it has signed with a Saudi company will allow it to keep 75 jobs that likely would have left the country.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States funded the deal, which will allow Stolle to sell equipment to produce aluminum cans for carbonated drinks and juices to a Jeddah company. The loan marks the first contact the bank has made with a private company in Saudi Arabia, officials say.

The Saudi deal, which will keep one-third of Stolle’s workers busy, has helped the company meet its goals for 2009 and 2010, CEO David Groetsch says.

“It’s one of the largest orders we’ve ever had, and without (the Export-Import Bank’s) cooperation and support, we wouldn’t have had an order of that magnitude,” he said.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who attended a press conference about the deal last week, says such projects will fuel the economy in Colorado and across the nation.

“This is such an important demonstration of what our American workers can do, and what our American manufacturing companies can do,” he said.

Ex-Im Bank has seen an increased demand for foreign deals, according to Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg.

“We were approached by the Saudi Arabian company in February of 2009 asking for a can plant, and they came back to us in July 2009 asking for financing,” said Hochberg, who added that the loan will help Stolle to compete in a global marketplace.

Hochberg has seen a 50 percent increase in Ex-Im Bank’s volume last year, an increase that he attributes to more banks pulling back from loans. For example, the bank hopes to support a project with a company in Beijing that would bring $10 million to the United States.

“The entire expense of the Export-Import Bank to make these loans is paid for from our borrowers, so not one dime from the taxpayer goes to this project,” Hochberg said. “We are working hard to create jobs through exports and also not spending any of your money to do so.”

Contracts like this one are meant to contribute to President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years and adding 2 million jobs.

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Categories: Finance