Memo claims NC film incentives brought in less jobs than expecte - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Memo claims NC film incentives brought in less jobs than expected

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A memo generated in the North Carolina General Assembly says the state's Film Incentive Tax Credit has not generated as many jobs as many people thought.

The memo, generated in January and delivered to Senator Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenberg) by the Fiscal Research Division of the Legislative Services Office, comes in the form of an eight-page memo.

[Click here to read the memo in its entirety]

The findings show "the Film Production Credit  likely attracted between 55 and 70 new jobs to North Carolina in 2011, which is 290 to 350 fewer jobs than would have been created through an across-the board tax reduction of the same magnitude."

The report goes on to say "However, as there is no way to directly measure the economic impact of the Film Credit, the REMI model provides an informed estimate of how the Film Credit impacts business activity in North Carolina." 

The memo explains that "the Regional Economic Models Incorporated (REMI) PI+ model.... estimates how the economic system would react to changes in the policy environment, so the results are only estimates."

The memo does not show any figures or statistics from 2012, when several large productions began shooting in southeastern North Carolina, including Iron Man 3, Safe Haven, and the NBC show Revolution.

"The report doesn't reflect what is happening in North Carolina's Film Industry," said Aaron Syrett, the Director of the North Carolina Film Office. "The film industry put about 4,000 North Carolinians to work as well paid highly skilled crew members and actors, in addition to 22,000 as film extras.  In 2012 the industry spent $376 million directly in our local communities."

Johnny Griffin, head of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, said the study did not rely on date from the North Carolina Department of Revenue, which audits all projects that film in the state.

Griffin said the proof is in the numbers.

"We've seen production go from in 2010, $43 million dollars being spent to last year about $247 million being spent here," he said. "So, the incentives have done exactly what they were meant to do which was to bring productions to the area."

Griffin said it isn't clear where the numbers used in the study are from and that local and state film leaders weren't consulted as part of the report.

"There are hundreds of people who work in the area every day," he said. "I can show you one project alone that created $15 to $20 million in payroll. To read in a report that they can only show $2 to $3 million in wages that have been created, I don't know where that information is coming from. It just doesn't make any sense."

He said if state leaders are planning on stopping the incentive program, it would harm the local economy.

"If the incentives were to go away altogether, basically, the majority of the film business would just leave," he said.

North Carolina's Film Tax Incentives are set to expire on January 1, 2015 according to the NC Film Office.

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