'Hunger Games' part of movie boom in N.C.

A record 119 films are now under way in North Carolina – and that’s due to financial incentives and teamwork with the state’s travel and tourism industry, Gov. Bev Perdue said Monday.

“The film business in North Carolina didn’t just happen,” Perdue told tourism representatives attending the N.C. Governor’s Conference, held at the Embassy Suites in Concord. Nearly 500 are attending the conference, which started Sunday and ends today.

Perdue credited the state’s tourism industry with supporting one of the most robust tax-incentive programs in the country for filmmakers. Filmmakers can get a refund on 25 percent of salaries and money they spend on taxable items in North Carolina, worth up to $20 million per project. The film industry increased its spending in the state from $75 million in 2010 to $220 million in 2011.

“All of that happened because you were our partners with the legislature and the business community. And we need that kind of partnership,” Perdue said.

Perdue said North Carolina’s tourism industry is an economic driver. It employs nearly 200,000, and contributes nearly $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenue. Visitor spending in North Carolina totaled a record $17 billion in 2010, according to the state.

The state tourism bureau also rolled out its new $3 million marketing campaign at the conference, which involves 60 percent digital media and 40 percent print media promotions, said Lynn Minges, assistant secretary for tourism, marketing and global branding.

The VisitNC.com site also has a link for virtual tours of all the North Carolina locales used in “The Hunger Games,” the action drama based on the best-selling novel that premieres March 23.

Other high-profile events will continue to raise the state’s status, Perdue said, from September’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to the PGA Championship, also in Charlotte, in 2017.

“We’ve figured out how to sell this state,” Perdue said.