Senator Michael Lee introduces bill that would add $34 million in funding for film incentives

Senator Michael Lee introduces bill that would add $34 million in funding for film incentives
Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 11:22 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Film incentives have helped put the state of North Carolina on the map in terms of desirability and have made it a top choice for movie studios and television productions for years. Now, State Senator Michael Lee is hoping to bring even more money to the state’s already robust film incentive programs.

Lee has introduced Senate Bill 268 which would see $34 million in nonrecurring funds appropriated to the state’s Film and Entertainment Grant Fund, which’s on top of the $31 million worth of recurring funds already in the state’s budget - something that Lee also helped push through during his previous stint as Senator.

“When I got into the legislature I was able to increase the grant three times of what it was at the time ... and then before my brief hiatus from the legislature, I was able to make those funds recurring so now $31 million that comes every single year is in the budget,” Lee said.

Locally, the film industry helps drive small businesses, from hospitality workers to skilled laborers like carpenters who build sets, but for a number of reasons, Lee said he felt it was necessary to do more to help attract more to the industry.

“I think that as a result of a lot of different factors and after speaking with those in the film industry both locally and statewide I felt like we really needed to do something above what was already there to increase our ability to attract and bring in productions to North Carolina and specifically to my district,” Lee said.

Although the funds will not be recurring dollars, Lee said he hopes to at least boost the film incentives for the next two fiscal years, and his goal is to get the total to $65 million.

For those who might not understand how film incentives work, it’s not just ‘free money’ given to production companies, in order to get some of the fund’s film productions have to apply for the incentives and actually film things in the state.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is they think we’re just helping folks in other states. Really the folks were helping are the carpenters the restaurants those in hospitality, hotels, those who have Airbnbs all the folks that support the industry so it really does dovetail through the small business network in the New Hanover County area,” Lee said.

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