RALEIGH — North Carolina has a new leading role, thanks in part to a program that gives television and movie production companies financial incentive to film in the state.
Various film projects have contributed a record $300 million to the state’s economy so far this year, compared to $220 million in all of 2011, according to Aaron Syrett, director of the N.C. Film Office. Syrett says Hollywood’s interest in North Carolina injects money into the local economy, helping alleviate state unemployment, which stands at 9.4 percent.
“That $300 million is a direct spend into the economy,” Syrett said. “It’s dumping money into the pool quickly, and that can have short-term benefits.”
Since 2010, the state has provided a 25 percent tax break to film production companies that spend at least $250,000 in the state. The incentive was set to expire Jan. 1, 2014, but earlier this month Gov. Bev Perdue signed a bill that extended it another year.
Perdue, in a statement, lauded the employment potential of attracting major Hollywood studios to the state. “My top priority is creating jobs, and the enhanced film credit has created record spending by production companies in this state and resulted in thousands of jobs,” Perdue said.
North Carolina has a long history with the film industry. Many well-known classics, such as “Bull Durham,” the original “Dirty Dancing” and “The Last of the Mohicans” were produced in the state. More recently “The Hunger Games” was filmed near Charlotte, while “Iron Man 3” recently began production in Wilmington and Cary.
Advertisers also have taken notice of what North Carolina has to offer. The list of companies that opted to take advantage of the tax break to produce commercials includes Under Armour, Mountain Dew, ESPN, Verizon Wireless, K Swiss and Bank of America.
As of July, about 35 film production projects are scheduled in 30 counties.
“There are lots of things that bring movie makers to the state,” Syrett said. “… Producers know that when they come, they will get good, competent workers.”