In a recent op-ed for the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal expressed his deep continuing support for the Georgia Film Incentive, and discussed the positive impacts that Georgia’s ever-growing film industry is having on both the economy and the community.
According to the Motion Picture Association of America, Georgia is now the country’s third busiest film and television production center. As Governor Deal points out, local Georgia businesses and workers are reaping the benefits of industry growth. Over 24,000 jobs in the state are directly credited to the film industry, and there are now close to 3,000 film and television businesses here, including over 1,950 production-related companies.
“Georgia’s growth in this industry is a result of the concentrated efforts we’ve made to build a pro-business climate in Georgia, with stable and consistent production tax credits playing a key role,” wrote Governor Deal, citing the production industry’s $1.7 billion spent in fiscal year 2015, and the average $660 million that MPAA members alone have paid annually to local business since 2009.
“Georgia is already well suited for production due to our diverse locations, temperate climate, robust infrastructure and the ease of access of having the world’s busiest airport, so it certainly made sense to enact policies that present Georgia as a viable option for hosting film productions,” he added.
In just a few short years, Fayetteville, Georgia has transformed into a bustling production hub thanks to Pinewood Studios Atlanta, known for their recent multi-picture deal with Marvel Cinematic Universe. Today, a mixed-use development featuring over 1,200 residences, office spaces, restaurants and a boutique hotel is in the works in order to meet the demands of what Governor Deal refers to as the “economic engine that is Pinewood Atlanta.”
Addressing the common criticism that the film industry brings in out-of-town workers, takes advantage of local incentives and then hits the road, Governor Deal cited a surprising statistic. According to Georgia’s own International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 479, when productions come to Georgia, local workers account for 85 percent of industry hires.
The crew of top-rated TV series The Walking Dead is over 90 percent local, and Governor Deal notes that even when highly-skilled positions are filled by out-of-towners, these industry professionals are providing valuable skills training to local Georgians. What’s more, about ten percent of these visiting professionals stay behind and become Peach State residents themselves. The Walking Dead’s costume designer, construction coordinator, foreman, dolly grip, stunt coordinator and more have moved permanently to Georgia, and several cast members and producers have also bought homes here.
The city of Senoia, Georgia, home of The Walking Dead, has grown as well. Downtown Senoia once boasted only a handful of businesses; today, there are 50, with a larger downtown expansion on the way.
“Film and television productions leave a footprint across a wide array of industries and local vendors,” Governor Deal pointed out, noting the huge economic impacts of recent films shot in Georgia, from Selma to 42 to Furious 7. “In addition to the benefit of the direct spend of these projects, the long-term effects of film tourism are also well-substantiated.”
In order to keep up with the growing demands for industry workers in Georgia, Governor Deal has established a partnership between the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System. In January, the Georgia Film Academy will begin offering classes to provide the necessary skills and resources to fast-track workers from around the state into the film and television industry, thereby providing even more job opportunities for local residents.