Economic Development

Film and Television Incentives Bill Moves Forward in Florida Senate

A bill that will comprehensively restructure the way Florida supports its entertainment industry moved forward in the State Senate after successfully clearing a crucial Senate committee vote.

Florida film and television production incentives

Florida film and television production incentives (photo – FL Office of Film & Entertainment)

SB 1640 moves the state’s Office of Film and Entertainment into Enterprise Florida, the official Florida economic development organization.

The new division within Enterprise Florida will be renamed as the Division of Film and Entertainment, with revised rules for film tax credit eligibility, the application process, annual allocation and distribution of tax credits, reporting requirements, etc.

Most importantly, the bill extends the incentive program for another four years and expands it to provide $300 million in available tax credits.

Florida’s film and television incentive program was first created in 2003 as the Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program.

The legislation was intended to be used as a means to promote Florida as a site for production of films, television shows, commercials, digital media and other entertainment productions; and to sustain and grow the workforce, studios and other infrastructure required for the entertainment industry.

The current incentive program began on July 1, 2010 as a six-year program that will expire on June 30, 2016. Over these six years, the program offers a total of $296 million in tax credits, which has already been used up.

If approved, SB 1640 would extend the program through to 2020. It also provides $50 million in additional tax credits for each fiscal year from FY 2014-15 through to FY 2019-20, for a total of $300 million in available tax credits.

SB 1640 was introduced in the State Senate as a committee bill by the Commerce and Tourism Committee, and has just been approved by the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee.

The bill still has a couple of hoops to jump through in the Senate and the House, and then their versions will need to be reconciled. The Florida House version (HB983), filed by Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., takes it a whole lot further, offering $200 million per fiscal year from FY 2014-15 onwards.

A report released last month by Film Florida, a non-profit association that promotes Florida’s film and entertainment industries, says that the incentive program returns back $5 to the State for every $1 in tax credits issued.

According to the report, the incentive program supports $7.2 billion in production spending and induced tourism across Florida, and supports 87,870 jobs with $2.3 billion in labor income.

The report says that 19.5 percent of all visitors to Florida indicated that seeing a television series or film that was filmed in Florida contributed to their decision to visit.

Leah Sokolowsky, president of Film Florida, said the incentive program attracts a significant number of entertainment projects, and in turn, Florida gains direct and indirect jobs, tax revenue, and film-induced tourism dollars.

Zogby Study Highlights NY Economic Development Programs Used by Manufacturers

A study conducted by Zogby Analytics highlights what executives at 114 manufacturers in New York think about the state’s economic climate, policies, business incentives and programs.

Zogby Study on NY Manufacturers

Zogby Study on NY Manufacturers

The study was commissioned by a partnership between the New York Economic Development Council (NYSEDC), Manufacturers Alliance of New York State, and the Manufacturers Research Institute.

There’s a lot to chew on in the study (Manufacturing Executives: Attitudes, Operations, Expectations & Opportunities), including how many of the respondents are making capital investments and creating jobs, and which state or local economic development programs are being utilized most.

Almost half (48 percent) say their company has invested more on plant and equipment in the last five years, while only 26 percent say they have invested less.

When asked to rate their company’s ability to maintain operations in New York State, seven in ten (68 percent) gave it a fair or good rating.

The number of respondents who say their employment levels have gone up has also risen from 22 percent in the previous 2012 survey to 30 percent this year.

When asked how things have gotten better for maintaining operations in New York State, respondents cited a recovering economy, lower taxes, nanotechnology and tech companies adding foundries, and the Governor’s investment in IT and advanced facilities in Western NY.

Asked what is the best reason to have manufacturing operations in the state, a full 23 percent said it provides jobs and helps New York. The workforce was cited by 11 percent of respondents, and quality of life by 10 percent.

Asked to name the top obstacle to having manufacturing operations in New York, an overwhelming 43 percent named taxes as the number one obstacle. The cost of doing business was cited by 12 percent, and the cost of living by 10 percent.

Asked what program or policy changes in New York State would enhance their company’s ability to invest in the state, a 69 percent majority named lower real property taxes and 66 percent named lower corporate income taxes. Energy costs and personal income taxes were named by 64 and 61 percent respectively.

Asked about which local or New York State economic development programs their company is utilizing or has utilized, a full 23 percent named the Empire Zones Program and 21 percent named their Industrial Development Agency (IDA).

NYSERDA (NYS Energy Research and Development Authority) grants and loans were cited by 12 percent, and 10 percent named the Investment Tax Credit Program (ITC).

Seven percent named state grants offered through their Regional Economic Development Council, and three percent named the Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits.

Manufacturers Alliance President Randy Wolken said that in this study, they sought to identify just what manufacturers were feeling about the economic climate, and identify how New York State should focus its attention to help grow manufacturing and the economy.

Read the full Zogby study – Download (pdf)    

MassDevelopment Housing Tour Leads to Historic Shoe Factory Redevelopment

MassDevelopment, a Massachusetts economic development organization that administers finance programs and real estate development services, announced a $90,000 predevelopment loan for a redevelopment project in Haverhill, MA.

37 Washington Street in Haverhill, MA

37 Washington Street in Haverhill, MA (photo – massdevelopment.com)

The loan has been awarded to a subsidiary of Boston-based Traggorth Companies LLC (TCLLC) to help the company redevelop 37 Washington Street, a former shoe factory that was built in the late 1800s and has been languishing vacant for the last 50 years.

TCLLC plans to redevelop the 20,000-square-foot property into a mixed-use facility. The project will create 18 housing units, in addition to eight full-time retail jobs and 27 construction jobs.

The MassDevelopment funding will be used to cover the architectural and engineering costs.

TCLLC got interested in the property after it was shown to them during a Merrimack Valley housing tour in April 2013. The tour was organized by MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development (HED) Department.

TCLLC then set up a subsidiary (37 Washington Street LLC) to manage the redevelopment, and acquired the property in Sept 2013.

MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones said their developer tours show real-estate professionals properties and communities they might not see otherwise.

Jones added that the purchase of 37 Washington Street and its redevelopment is exactly the desired result, and MassDevelopment was pleased to participate in the building’s transformation from the beginning, and to fund the predevelopment work to get the project started.

The abandoned shoe factory at 37 Washington Street is close to other projects that have received funding from MassDevelopment, including the Haverhill Intermodal Parking Facility, Hamel Mill Lofts and the Hayes Building.

Dave Traggorth, founder of Traggorth Companies LLC, said they give tremendous credit to MassDevelopment for introducing them to the amazing success that downtown Haverhill represents, and for providing access to early funding for building on that success through 37 Washington Street’s revitalization into beautiful homes and retail space close to transit, parks and shopping.

During fiscal year 2013, MassDevelopment provided finance for or managed 350 such projects that represent an investment of $2.4 billion into the Massachusetts economy. These projects are expected to rehabilitate or build 800 residential housing units, and create more than 7,000 jobs.

CT Funding for New Milford Brownfield Demolition to Generate Economic Development

The Connecticut State Bond Commission is all set to award the Town of New Milford $2.5 million to assist in the demolition of the former Century Brass mill site.

Century Enterprise Center site in New Milford, CT

Century Enterprise Center site in New Milford, CT (photo – epa.gov)

The $2.5 million in state funding for the $3.7 million project will be administered through the Connecticut economic development department (DECD).

This project is part of a wide-ranging local, state and federal effort to clean up and redevelop a 72-acre brownfield site called the Century Enterprise Center (CEC).

Millions of dollars in local, state and federal funds have already been spent on environmental assessments, cleanups and infrastructure improvements. However, the site still has the vacant brass mill which is contaminated with PCB and asbestos.

The mill has to be demolished and removed before New Milford can move on to the next phase of the redevelopment, which is to work with a developer and market the property for commercial or industrial usage that will generate revenues.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said that CEC has tremendous potential for commercial and “green” industrial use that will generate economic development and create jobs, but this site has sat unused for too long.

The brass mill in question dates back to 1957, and has been closed since 1986. New Milford obtained the 320,000-square-foot property in 1999 by tax foreclosure.

The EPA awarded New Milford $1 million in 2001 to set up a revolving loan fund to help finance the cleanup. The Town in turn loaned the money to the New Milford Economic Development Commission, which is responsible for daily oversight of the CEC cleanup operations.

Apart from this $1 million, a subsequent $711,645 for the loan fund and other federal grants, New Milford has also previously secured funding for the project from other sources, including $500,000 from the CT Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP).

Speaking about the latest $2.5 million in state funding, Gov. Malloy said the state’s investment in this project demonstrates their ongoing commitment to working with municipal partners for restoring blighted properties, bolstering the economy and improving the quality of life for residents.

The Town has itself also spent a lot on the project, including $4.4 million for infrastructure improvements such as sewer, water and roads close to the properties.

How important the CEC redevelopment project is for New Milford can be judged from the fact that it represents 15 percent of the town’s zoned industrial land. Once completed, the Town expects CEC to generate $300,000 in annual tax revenues.

With DECD’s assistance, they are looking to market the site as ideal for a distribution center, retail complex or a green industry project. The site has excellent rail and road access, being located less than a mile from U.S. Route 7 and served by sidings from the Housatonic Railroad.

Once the property is sold and the New Milford Economic Development Commission is able to repay the zero interest loan back to the Town, the funds can be utilized for clean-up of other properties in the town.

Memphis Innovation Center Aims to Create 500 Companies

The Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle is aiming to create 500 companies and 1,000 entrepreneurs over the next 10 years through the Memphis Entrepreneurship Powered Innovation Center (EPIcenter).

Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle announces EPIcenter

Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle announces EPIcenter (photo -Greater Memphis Chamber)

The Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle is a group of 100 business leaders who have committed to making Memphis great through five “moon missions.” One of these missions is the goal of creating 1,000 entrepreneurs in 10 years.

They benchmarked Memphis against other successful locations, and determined that the kind of success they were aiming for requires a concerted effort and common strategy to be adopted by all the organizations serving the region’s startups.

This is what the EPIcenter aims to be, as the single front door and point of accountability for entrepreneurs in Memphis.

The center will assist any entrepreneur who wants to start a business, but will focus on sectors where Memphis is already strong, including logistics, healthcare and bioscience, and the information and software technology that enables these sectors.

The EPIcenter will be working directly with companies through existing incubator, capital and accelerator programs. The center will also work in conjunction with the Shelby County and Memphis Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE), which was created in 2011 to streamline and manage economic development programs.

David Waddell, president, CEO and CIO of Waddell & Associates, Inc. and chair of the Chairman’s Circle entrepreneurship committee, said the EPIcenter will impact everyone in the region significantly.

Waddell said that creating 500 scalable high-growth companies in the Memphis economy’s key sectors will eventually produce an economic impact of $600 million and at least 4,500 new jobs.

The Memphis Bioworks Foundation has been chosen to lead the EPIcenter, based on their strong record of supporting and nurturing entrepreneurship. Since 2009, Bioworks and Innova have together supported 200 entrepreneurs and formed 60 companies while managing $53 million in equity investments.

Steven Bares, PhD, president and executive director of Memphis Bioworks, said they are proud to step forward and own this responsibility.

Bares said that having partnered with virtually every organization in the region focused on incubation, acceleration and commercialization, they have a great sense of the region’s innovative strengths and feel confident that there is enough business and development going on to keep everyone busy for years to come.

SCAG-LAEDC Report on CA Film and Television Tax Credits

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) released a study that assesses the impact of California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program.

SCAG report on California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program

SCAG report on California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program (photo Рlaedc.org)

The study commissioned by SCAG was conducted by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. It reviews 109 film and television projects that were allocated credits and completed production in the program’s first three fiscal years.

The study analyzes the impact of the allocated funding for the first three years, and evaluates alternatives to the current program – a $100 million annual allocation that is distributed to qualifying projects once a year based on a lottery system.

Highlights from the SCAG report analyzing the impact of the 109 funded and completed projects:-

- These projects have generated $1.9 billion in direct spending, $4.3 billion in economic output and $247.7 million in state and local tax revenues;

- These projects supported 22,300 jobs with $1.6 billion in labor income;

- Each dollar of tax credit certificate issued resulted in – $1.11 being returned to state and local government; economic activity increasing by $19.12; labor income increasing by $7.15; and total state GDP increasing by $9.48.

The most interesting part of the report is the economic and fiscal impact analysis of lost big-budget productions (above $75 million) that do not qualify for tax credits under the current program.

The report says that in 2013 alone, a full 75 percent of the 41 live action feature films with budgets exceeding $75 million were filmed outside California.

This includes films such as The Hobbit (1 and 2) filmed in New Zealand with a combined budget of $320 million; Iron Man 3 filmed in North Carolina at $200 million; Oz, The Great and Powerful filmed in Michigan at $200 million; and Man of Steel that was filmed in Illinois with a $220 million budget.

These and other such “lost” films account for $4 billion in total budgets. If they had been produced in California, it would have generated additional economic output of $9.6 billion, with $410 million in state and local tax revenues and 47,600 jobs.

Christine Cooper, LAEDC Vice President for Economic and Policy Analysis, and principal author of the SCAG report, writes in it that it is not hyperbole to assert that California is losing jobs to other states and nations and is continuing to bleed out at increasing rates.

SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata says California is very much at risk of losing its film industry, and the losses would have been even more painful the past five years without this program.

Ikhrata said the decline in California’s motion picture industry is one of the most pressing economic challenges facing the state, and urged lawmakers to not only expand the tax credit program, but also make it stronger.

The report suggests lifting the $75 million budget cap and bringing in visual-effects operations which do not qualify for the program at the moment.

This SCAG report, the Milken Institute report released last month, and events organized by the California Film & Television Production Alliance, are all aimed at drumming up support for a bill that was introduced in the California Assembly last month.

The bill (the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act – AB 1839) will overhaul the tax credit program and make the changes necessary to help California retain more film and television productions.

Read the full SCAG report – Download (pdf)

Greater Cincinnati Economic Development Organizations Co-locating in New HQ

Five Greater Cincinnati economic development organizations have agreed to co-locate in a single building in downtown Cincinnati that will serve as a headquarters for all of them.

Greater Cincinnati economic development co-location HQ

Greater Cincinnati economic development co-location HQ (rendering – Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber)

The five organizations are the Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI); Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority; Cincinnati Business Committee (CBC); and the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee (CRBC).

Their new headquarters on East Fourth Street was first built in 1967, and is currently owned by a subsidiary of the American Financial Group.

The 40,000 square feet of space in the building includes workspaces for all of the nearly 100 employees of the aforementioned five organizations, and a business center and conference rooms on the first floor.

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber has entered into a 10-year lease with American Financial for the building, and will be moving in this October.

Brian Carley, president and CEO of the Chamber, said this new headquarters building was an exciting announcement for many reasons. Carley said the greater collaboration and easier access for business leaders and partners will make the organizations more nimble and better stewards of the region’s success.

The relocation schedules of the other organizations will vary, but the building will eventually bring together their rich history of civic engagement and over 200 cumulative years of continuous business focus.

REDI Interim Executive Director Matt Davis said that this move is about brokering more deals and winning jobs for the region. Davis said the opportunity to do that simply by co-locating with these other economic development partners and business leaders was too good to pass up.

Gary Lindgren, executive director of the CBC and CRBC, said they are committed to the vitality and economic growth of the region, and they will be better able to support these efforts by aligning strategies and resources.

Laura Brunner, president and CEO of the Port Authority, said they are excited to be sharing an address with organizations that are equally committed to driving economic growth in the region, and look forward to opportunities for enhanced collaboration.

North Dakota Economic Development Foundation to Launch Workforce Recruitment Campaign

The North Dakota Economic Development Foundation announced that it will be launching a new workforce recruitment campaign as a public-private partnership in May 2014.

North Dakota Economic Development Foundation Announces Workforce Recruitment Campaign - Find the Good Life in North Dakota

North Dakota Economic Development Foundation Announces Workforce Recruitment Campaign – Find the Good Life in North Dakota (photo – Experience ND)

The $800,000 workforce recruitment campaign, billed as “Find the Good Life in North Dakota,” is funded with $400,000 from the State. The rest of the funding comes from a contribution made by energy company Hess Corporation.

Steve McNally, general manager of Hess Corporation’s North Dakota operations, presented the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation with a $400,000 check.

McNally said that like many businesses, Hess is facing tremendous workforce needs and they want to hire workers who believe in the exciting opportunities North Dakota has to offer.

The workforce recruitment campaign will focus not only on the career opportunities available in North Dakota, but also on the quality of life, portraying the state as a great place to live and work and raise a family.

The campaign will target specific markets in states with chronic unemployment, focusing on attracting talent in industries that have a high demand in North Dakota, including energy, transportation, skilled trades, engineering, IT and healthcare.

It will also focus on attracting veterans and active military personnel as they transition to civilian careers.

ND Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, who made the announcement about the workforce recruitment campaign, said they have been working hard to grow the economy and create jobs, and those efforts have paid off in a big way as North Dakota now leads the nation in terms of job creation and economic growth.

Wrigley added that to sustain this growth, they now need to ensure that the jobs being created are filled by highly-skilled workers, and this campaign offers a tremendous opportunity for expanding the workforce while promoting the quality of life North Dakota offers.

Wally Goulet, who chairs the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation, said their goal is to ensure that North Dakota has the workforce it needs for taking full advantage of the opportunities they have all worked so hard to create and foster.

The North Dakota Economic Development Foundation comes under the ND Dept. of Commerce, and is tasked with helping the Governor and the Department develop and execute strategies for increasing economic growth and improving the state’s competitiveness.

Nevada Approves $4.3M Film Tax Credits for Mall Cop – Blart 2

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. has been approved for Nevada’s first film tax credit for the filming of Mall Cop: Blart 2, a sequel to the original Paul Blart: Mall Cop movie.

Nevada Film Office tax credits

Nevada Film Office tax credits (photo – nevadafilm.com)

The $46 million production cost includes $27.9 million in qualified expenditures, which makes Sony Pictures eligible for a maximum of $4.383 million in transferable tax credits.

Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office , said he’d like to thank Sony Pictures for their interest in filming in Nevada, and for working with their office so well.

The production is entirely funded by Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., and by their parent Sony Corp.

The production will create 3,400 direct jobs for Nevada residents with a payroll of more than $7 million during the 66 day filming period in Nevada. The shooting will primarily take place at Wynn Las Vegas and at Blue Line Studios.

Goods and services purchased from Nevada vendors during this period will add up to more than $8.7 million.

A special hearing of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), which administers Nevada economic development programs and coordinates job creation and business development efforts by other state and regional agencies, was held to decide on Sony’s application for a certificate of eligibility for transferable tax credits.

During this hearing, GOED Business Development Director Brad Mamer asked Pete Corral, who was one of those representing Columbia/Sony Pictures Industries, as to whether the tax credit program contributed to their decision to choose Nevada for the production.

Corral replied that the transferable tax credit was a major part of their decision to film in Nevada, and noted that Sony had also been looking at Louisiana and Georgia. He said they had calculated that they would receive a larger incentive if they had chosen to film in New Orleans.

However, Sony ultimately decided it would be more advantageous to film in Las Vegas, and in particular at the Wynn.

Mamer also asked if the company had any suggestions about how more categories of production costs (special effects, camea/video, etc.) could be brought to Nevada. Corral said Nevada would need to persuade companies such as Hollywood Rentals and Panavision to establish an annex in the state.

Corral also noted that Nevada should consider increasing its current 15 percent Transferable Film Tax Credit incentives program to be more in line with other states that offer film tax credits in the 25 percent range.

Paul DePace, another representative for Columbia/Sony Pictures Industries at the hearing, said Nevada could additionally secure post-production work by having a post-production studio or sound stage.

DePace said a studio/stage of 16,000 to 18,000 square feet would be a positive investment for state or local governments in Nevada, or even as a private business venture. DePace added that Columbia/Sony does not make such out of state capital investments since they already have their own facilities in Hollywood.

The Nevada Film Office is planning to hold more such hearings for three other productions that have applied for film tax credits in Nevada.

Kentucky, Germany Team Up For Workforce Development Skills Initiative

A German model for closing the skills gap may soon be helping Kentucky build the skilled future workforce it needs to support the state’s manufacturers.

KY Skills Initiative

KY Skills Initiative

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, accompanied by Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Fischer and other state and education officials launched a program called the Skills Initiative.

Kentucky’s Skills Initiative is based on Germany’s dual system of vocational education under which students pursue high school diplomas while doing apprenticeships in their chosen occupations.

Gov. Beshear said that businesses are consistently telling them that the need for highly-skilled workers has never been greater, so they set out to develop the best training programs possible for meeting the present and future needs of Kentucky business.

Gov. Beshear said they found an extremely effective German program, and contacted the German embassy to find out more about it. The Governor added that the Germans had been extremely helpful, and their assistance helped create the Skills Initiative.

The initiative is open to all manufacturers in Kentucky, but the partnership between the State and the German Embassy is primarily driven by the large number of German companies in Kentucky. Currently, there are 62 German-owned businesses in the state, which together employ more than 9,000 people.

Through the Skills Initiative, the German Embassy brings together local education and training providers with manufacturers. Participation for students is entirely voluntary.

Fischer said the Skills Initiative is a win-win idea and everyone benefits. He added that German-American cooperation on workforce skills development will provide communities across Kentucky with opportunities for quality training, good jobs and businesses capable of succeeding in the U.S. and global markets.

The primary aim of the Skills Initiative is to align Kentucky’s existing education and workforce development resources into a system of dual-track training that provides education and jobs at the same time. There are already more than 150 Kentucky companies employing hundreds of students through formalized dual-track training programs.

Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes said their aim with the Skills Initiative is for it to be industry-driven and based on market demands of Kentucky’s workforce needs.

The Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency administering Kentucky economic development programs and initiatives.

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