Politics & Government

Charlotteans push extended NC film incentives

Charlotte elected officials and business leaders joined film industry advocates from around the state Wednesday in pushing for continuation of the state’s film incentives.

State tax credits for the industry are set to expire in January unless lawmakers extend them.

“This is about jobs, pure and simple,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo told a news conference.

Now film production companies can get a 25 percent credit up to $20 million on qualifying expenses. Supporters say the industry provides 4,200 full-time and over 15,000 part-time jobs, with economic benefits in the millions.

Critics say the industry’s claims of jobs and benefit are exaggerated.

Advocates, wearing stickers that said “Film Equals Jobs,” took their case to lawmakers in their offices. They also took it to the media at a news conference where they were joined by several legislators, including a bipartisan group from Mecklenburg County.

Democrat Rep. Rodney Moore of Charlotte called the credits “the lifeblood of saving jobs in the film industry in North Carolina.” Republican Rep. Charlie Jeter of Huntersville said lawmakers should focus on jobs.

“Any time we can put people to work we should do it,” he said.

And Democrat John Autry, a Charlotte City Council member, said film production is still a possibility on at least a portion of the old Eastland Mall property in east Charlotte.

“It’s about jobs, it’s about lives,” he told the news conference.

One advocate of incentives was Charlotte’s Matt Harper, a partner with Childress Klein Properties. He said 40 percent of all the property his company leased out in 2011 and 2012 went to film production companies.

And Jason Rosin of Wilmington, an official of the Studio Mechanics union, couldn’t tout Charlotte enough as a growing player in the film business.

“If you’re looking to grow the motion picture business in this country, Charlotte has the greatest upside of any place in the United States,” he said, citing its infrastructure, airline connections and experienced crews.

“Charlotte is the next great thing in the motion picture industry. Anybody who’s ever worked there knows it. Now we in North Carolina need to realize it.”