With our state facing another budget shortfall, a panel of legislators will set to work this month reviewing each of Louisiana’s tax incentive programs. Currently, more than 400 credits and exemptions are available, some dating back decades.
As certain tax breaks and programs head to the chopping block of next year’s legislative session, the progressive tax incentive programs for film and digital interactive projects—Louisiana was first in the nation on both fronts—will be safe, based on Gov. Jindal’s directive that any cuts made be revenue neutral.
The panel must ensure these incentives are run diligently by Chris Stelly’s Louisiana Entertainment office at LED. But it must also look beyond the revenue reports of Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the state legislature, to acknowledge that, much like the New Orleans Saints, high-profile and indigenous film and digital projects bring added value and media attention to Louisiana that creates benefits beyond the bottom line.
Film, television and digital industries need to remain a part of the economic development and promotional strategies of our state.
Hundreds of films and television shows have been made here since the tax credits program began, and according to LED, that has translated into 10,000 local jobs this year alone.
Stelly estimates $448 million will be spent in Louisiana in 2012.
Last year, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, filmed in and around Baton Rouge, and injected more than $189 million of economic activity into the area while also earning positive national and international press for the state.
Similarly, the digital interactive tax credits program has earned headlines by launching innovative digital companies like Nerjyzed Entertainment, Moonbot Studios and the Baton Rouge operations for the global video game giant EA Sports.
It is difficult to quantify the value of a change in perception, but because of the growing film, television and digital industries in the state, more industry professionals and culture consumers across the world are viewing Louisiana in a brand new light.
That change can create opportunities for economic, technological and cultural growth on a large scale and across industries.
Louisiana seems built for film production—proving that its myriad natural environments and unique cities and towns can double for almost any locale on the planet. In addition, actors, Hollywood executives and crew have responded overwhelmingly to our food, our festivities and our people, and they keep coming back for seconds.
This year has already seen a New Orleans filmmaker take top honors at both Sundance and Cannes film festivals, a Shreveport filmmaker earn an Oscar for Best Animated Short, the visual effects studio behind Oscar-winner Hugo open its newest office in Baton Rouge, and the Wall Street Journal highlight Louisiana as a forerunner of the new tax credit-fueled tech boom.
So while budgets and economic development initiatives must be viewed in terms both long and short, stars like Tom Cruise, Kristen Stewart and Patrick Dempsey are busy talking up the virtues of working and playing here.
How many marketing dollars would it take to secure such A-list endorsements?
The growing film and digital economies in Louisiana don’t just build businesses, they build something even more elusive: a brand of cool.
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Bad Guys, Good Eats! Pop-Up Dinner at Restaurant IPO
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Better Block BR
On Saturday the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives on April 13, 2013, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more "complete street" model.