December 20, 2016 9:30 AM
80,000 jobs and $4 billion-with-a-B in wages is nothing to sneeze at. For a 20 to 30% discount on their state income taxes, filmmakers, television producers and video game companies do their respective things in Georgia, and NOT in places like North Carolina, Louisiana, or Michigan.
That tax break translated into 245 feature film and television projects, $2.2 billion-with-a-B in direct spending for an economic impact of $7 billion, in Georgia, this year. The entertainment industry has started to blossom in Georgia and as much fun as celebrity-spotting may be, it’s more important to make the sector a permanent part of Georgia’s economy.
So when Celeste Headlee notes that Americans for Prosperity has successfully killed off similar tax incentives in Florida, and is now targeting Georgia’s, it’s important we notice those 80,000 jobs. Rick Harris has one of them, and employs about 13 others.
Harris Diversified started as a business supplying temporary electrical equipment power rentals to local festivals, weddings and events, but it now counts on Georgia’s film industry for the majority of its business… As the movie business grew here, so did ours,” says Rick. “Film production has been good for Metro Atlanta and I believe the whole state has benefited. It has helped so many small businesses. It’s amazing.”
So remember that in the upcoming legislative session, if you hear any talk about government “picking winners and losers,” especially for “Hollywood elites.” It’s not Tom Cruise getting the tax breaks, it’s an industry that employs Georgians like Rick Harris.
As production company head Craig Miller, who also sits on the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Advisory Commission, says: “The incentive actually drives work here… by offering these people (in California and New York) the incentive to come here and create jobs -and not just “movie jobs,” permanent support jobs that wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the incentives.”
After keeping its citizens safe, government should be about creating the necessary conditions to let them earn a living and become self sufficient. Georgia’s film tax credit is doing exactly that.