Fresh from a visit to Israel, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger boasted to business leaders that he struck deals to bring almost 1,000 jobs and millions of dollars to state revenues.
But officials at those companies said they made their deals without help from the governor or his administration, and in some cases either were already based in California or making the arrangements well before he took office.
"We actually began negotiating in August, and as you well know, that predates the governor," said Tom Tamarkin, president and CEO of USCL Corp., a Sacramento-based company that is partnering with an Israeli-based firm to develop a new, user-friendly line of utility meters.
"The timing was probably coincidental," Tamarkin said.
Schwarzenegger, who was elected governor last October, met with Israeli business leaders in Tel Aviv last weekend, announcing five deals with Israeli companies to expand or create business in the state.
"And so I had meetings over there with business leaders, which was fantastic and very successful," the Republican governor told business leaders at the annual California Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday. "We got five companies to go and form partnerships with Californian companies, and we created, because of those partnerships, we can announce at the press conference an additional almost 1,000 jobs for Californians and millions and millions of dollars that will be brought here to our revenues."
Business leaders who work between the two high-tech regions - Israel and California - said these types of expansions and relocations take months of planning and negotiations. But they said Schwarzenegger's encouragement may boost interest in building businesses in the state.
"Sure, he didn't broker this deal or that deal, but that's not his role. The governor's role, and government's role in general is to establish a climate where these types of things can happen, and by visiting Israel and encouraging delegations to visit California, helps create the right kind of business climate," said Erel Margalit, one of Israel's most successful venture investors who has been opening Israeli high-tech companies in California for more than a decade.
Margita Thompson, Schwarzenegger's press secretary, said the governor wasn't taking credit for bringing the companies to California but that he and his jobs commission were committed to improving their business activities in California.
"It's a long-term investment in creating a business-friendly environment in California," Thompson said. "By identifying these companies, it demonstrates California is open for business."
Associated Press Tom Chorneau contributed to this report.