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March 28, 2006

Schwarzenegger touts state economic growth

Using a small Inland plastics factory to make his point, Gov. Schwarzenegger took credit Monday for helping add more than 500,000 new jobs to the state since taking office.

Schwarzenegger, who's running for re-election in November, pointed to Trademark Plastics, Inc. as one of many businesses statewide that have reaped the benefit of workers' compensation reform and other economic changes he pushed. Trademark Plastics added 50 new jobs in the last three years, bringing its workforce to 180 employees.

"We see business booming left and right," he told a small crowd of workers, family members, city officials and area business people gathered at the factory. "Since I came into office, we've created 575,000 new jobs. Now that is a huge turnaround."

Although not a campaign event, the visit coincided with the release of a new TV ad that also touts Schwarzenegger's work to help businesses. The campaign commercial gives Schwarzenegger credit for pulling California "back from the brink of bankruptcy," for "dramatically reducing the state's deficit," and creating new jobs, among other claims.

The Riverside stop and the ad come as Schwarzenegger begins a weeklong effort to tout his job-creation efforts and other work with the economy. Experts and others had different opinions Monday about just how much credit Schwarzenegger deserves for the state's recent growth.

Terri Perkins, the company's general manager, said Schwarzenegger's work, specifically in getting workers' compensation reforms passed, has allowed her company to continue doing business in the state. Christopher Thornberg, a senior economist at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, said no politician - including Schwarzenegger - can claim credit for job increases over such a short period. "Growth is a natural state of the economy. The number of jobs is a function of supply and demand," not government policy, said Thornberg, author of the school's "California Report."

"This is classic politics," he added. "Take credit for things that are good happening on your watch and try to dodge the things that are bad that are happening on your watch." In its three annual fiscal outlooks since November 2003, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has reported that the state's economic performance and job growth largely reflect the nation's.

Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said it's common for governors to try to take credit for things that would have occurred anyway, but in this case he thinks it's justified. "The governor, I think, is seen by most business people as a champion," he said. "He is literally a cheerleader for the state's economy, but I think that's very, very important."

Economist David Neumark, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, said California's job growth since 2003 largely follows the national trend of recovery from the recession earlier this decade.

Schwarzenegger, however, likely can take credit for growth stemming from improvements in workers compensation, Neumark said. Changes pushed through by the governor in 2004 have reduced premiums and likely encouraged employers to hire more workers, he said. "During the 2003 recall campaign and frequently since then, Schwarzenegger and his supporters have blamed former Gov. Davis and other Democrats for pushing anti-business policies and vowed to make the state more business friendly. "

In an interview after touring the 100,000-square-foot Trademark Plastics facility, Schwarzenegger said he wants to continue to create an atmosphere that is receptive to businesses in California. He described himself as a chief executive officer, "creating the vision for the state and which direction we go." Schwarzenegger said he doesn't want to take all the credit for the job growth, acknowledging that many players are responsible, just as many people work behind the scenes to create successful films. A well-known actor before venturing into politics in 2003, Schwarzenegger said there are makeup artists, carpenters and others who help make a film but are rarely are mentioned. He said his new campaign ad is a way to acknowledge other Californians, including the Legislature.

"I want to let them know that they are also participating in our success," he said.

Campaign strategist Matthew Dowd also described the ad as a way to lay the groundwork for a fall campaign.

"If a governor can be judged upon bad news that happens in the state, he ought to be judged upon good news," Dowd added.

Copyright (c) 2006 The Press-Enterprise Co.

March 9, 2002

Trademark Plastics is moving to Riverside : ON THE MOVE: The Rancho Cucamonga firm will nearly double its space and pay less for power.

Reeling in another power rate-weary employer, Riverside said Friday that Trademark Plastics Inc., a medical parts manufacturer, is moving to the city from Rancho Cucamonga in search of room for growth and lower electricity bills. Jerry Carty, owner of the $12-million a year plastic injection molding firm, confirmed he will save more than $1 million in three years by moving from an area served by Southern California Edison to Riverside, which has its own municipal utility.

Carty estimated that about 80 percent of the 150 Trademark employees working in Rancho Cucamonga will stay with the company when it moves into a 100,000-square-foot building under construction at 807 Palmyrita Ave. in Hunter Highlands Corporate Park. The move in is targeted for July. Carty also said he will start hiring immediately after relocating to prepare for business expansion. He plans to enlarge his work force to 240 people within two years. That is possible, he said, because the new building will provide almost double the 55,000 square feet in three buildings that Trademark now occupies.

Carty said he also was attracted by Riverside's labor pool and city financial incentives, including wage reimbursements for employing Riverside residents and state and local tax credits for locating within the Agua Mansa Enterprise Zone. The city said it also will help Trademark obtain tax-exempt industrial development bond financing.

Trademark's move follows the opening of manufacturing plants in Riverside by Sabert Plastics and American Maid Plastics, the latter saying that a wish for less expensive and more reliable electricity was the sole reason for its decision to relocate from Corona.

"We are finding a lot of manufacturers are very interested in coming to Riverside. Much of it is caused by the quality of the labor force and also the electricity rates," said Doug Magnon, vice president of The Magnon Companies, developer of the 55-acre Hunter Highlands Corporate Park. With construction of the Trademark headquarters, the park will be built out.

Magnon said in response to brisk market demand The Magnon Companies has acquired another 25 acres nearby. "We are processing plans and getting ready to start construction," he said.


Copyright (c) 2002 The Press-Enterprise Co.

year lease on the Riverside building with The Magnon Companies. But Carty said he will exercise an option to purchase in a year. Trademark has been forced to turn away business after running out of space in Rancho Cucamonga, Carty said. But "the last straw" that spurred him to move, he said, came last year when the state raised private utility rates and Trademark saw its monthly Southern California Edison electricity bills soar from $20,000 to $50,000.