The folks in Wilmington who knew what a boost the film industry had been to that area, and to the entire state of North Carolina, fought to save a program wherein film companies could get a 25 percent credit from the state up to $20 million on qualifying expenses.
Yes, it was a lot of money. But over the 30 years or so that film companies doing movies or television shows or commercials have been coming to North Carolina, those companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars and hired thousands of people. The incentives program didn’t just create jobs, something like 4,200 last year, it put the state’s tourist attractions on the big screen. It was, in other words, a valuable promotional benefit.
But in the name of tax reform, or because of their inexperience in governing, Republicans killed off the old film incentives program, the one that worked and helped make Wilmington a studio headquarters of sorts. In its place came a grant program funded with $10 million, with film producers having to apply for a part of that money.
Now, to the surprise of no one who understood the old incentives program, the grant money is about out, having gone to three film productions. It may be replenished, but absent a return to the former program, the film industry in North Carolina is going to dwindle until it disappears.
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Apparently, Republicans think film companies will continue to flock to North Carolina for its considerable natural resources, and the variety of its scenic vistas and mansions and other things that are assets to filmmakers. But Hollywood makes decisions based on money, and neighboring states, in particular Georgia, have been happy to walk away with business that could have belonged to North Carolina.