Sunday, February 17, 2019

Republicans Killed the Film Industry, But This Bill Could Help Bring It Back

Sen. Harper Peterson
A tax credit program for North Carolina film production helped build Wilmington into a major venue for film and TV production, with location work (and local jobs -- some 4,200 statewide) often spreading out all over the state including into these western mountains. In 2014 alone, film productions brought more than $300 million to more than 30 counties across the state. Then the Republican super-majority in the General Assembly, abetted by Republican Governor Pat McCrory, trash-canned the tax credits, then sealed the lid shut with HB2, and the film industry obliged -- "We know when we're not welcomed" -- and largely fled to Atlanta and other friendlier Southern states, taking their jobs and their cash with them.

Newly elected Democratic state Senator Harper Peterson of District 9 in Wilmington is trying to reverse that trend, though he doesn't expect much cooperation from his Republican brethren (who just naturally hate Hollywood or any group of different people who seem happy). Peterson introduced Senate Bill 57 to bring back the tax credits for film production, but he admitted that with the Berger/Moore people still in charge, he faces a strenuous uphill climb: “I don’t assume this will go forward, but it keeps the discussion alive and look at where we were when we were very prosperous.”

“I’m optimistic but I’m also realistic,” he said. “The industry is changing before our eyes. We have to reinvent and update the incentive program to meet the demands and competition from other states.”

Kudos to Senator Peterson for trying. At least the Democrats in the General Assembly are now on record as favoring job creation and bringing back an industry that the Republicans stabbed through the heart.

And don't we love seeing our state depicted on the big screen, as well as the little one?

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