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Wilmington considering $400,000 investment to workforce development in film industry

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 12:59 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - With multiple productions underway in Wilmington, the film industry is stronger than ever and that means the demand for skilled workers is also on the rise. That’s why the City of Wilmington is looking to invest $400,000 into workforce development for the film production industry.

“City council will vote on awarding the non-profit Film Partnership of North Carolina a $400,000 grant to launch a new film, television, and entertainment industry training program,” according to the City of Wilmington.

City staff along with Susi Hamilton, former secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and interim board chair for the Film Partnership, presented the outline of the plan to the Wilmington City Council Monday morning.

The program will essentially provide 90 people with paid apprenticeships in the film industry, working behind the camera. The program will put a focus on including minorities and increasing diversity in the workforce.

“North Carolina’s strength is our talented workforce, and we make it stronger by building on equity and diversity,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “Our film industry is thriving, and the City of Wilmington’s new grant and partnership will help make sure every group has access to the jobs and the ability to share their stories and talents.”

Funding for the program would come from the American Rescue Act Plan, and both the city council and members of the film community stressed their desires to keep the program going past the initial period.

“The focus of this effort is to train the next group of technicians that work in the industry as crew. It can go from carpenters to electricians to HVAC professionals, People that deal with lighting, electricity, camera people, production assistants, things of that nature,” Hamilton said.

“Film is a cornerstone of our local economy, and we must be intentional about keeping it that way,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “This initiative will create a pipeline of qualified, local talent ready to work, while bolstering Wilmington’s status as a place where film is welcomed and embraced. We’re grateful that we can use American Rescue Plan funding to continue investing in vital areas of service, like workforce development.”

The first training session will kick off later this year if the city council approves the plan.

“The demand for developing and training the next generation of crew that reflects the diverse population of our state is growing throughout the industry,” Hamilton said. “It’s exciting that the City of Wilmington and the state recognize this opportunity and are ready to lean into it.”

According to the city, this year has been a huge one for film in North Carolina and the Port City, with more than $400 million in direct investments made statewide.

“We have been recruiting and have placed several trainees over summer,” Darla McGlamery, business agent for IATSE Local 491 said. “We are breaking records for film and production investments this year, and it’s important that we create a pipeline of well-trained talent to meet the demands of the industry.”

City council will vote on the initiative in November.

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