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Study looks at Michigan film incentives

People wait for tickets during Traverse City's film festival.
Andrew McFarlane
Creative Commons
People wait for tickets during Traverse City's film festival.

A new study shows Michigan’s tax incentives for the TV and film industry generated close to 4,000 fulltime jobs last year with an average salary of $53,700.  

Larry Alexander is President & CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, one of several bureaus across the state that helped commission the study.

“Diversifying Michigan’s economy by investing $84.7 million- and generating over a half a billion dollars of economic activity and nearly 4,000 high paying jobs- sounds like a pretty good deal to us.”

Rick Hert heads the West Michigan Film Office. He says talk about limiting the film incentives in the past reached Hollywood and caused some producers decide not to come to Michigan.

“This is much bigger. This is a new governor of the state of Michigan and his comments are doing more than reverberating, they’re putting a clamp on the future of this industry.”

Hert is thankful the governor didn’t totally remove the incentives, but worries they’ll be too limited to keep attracting producers.

Hert says he understands the state is broke and that legislators have some tough calls to make.

“They’ll say to me, gee Rick, you want me to not support social services or the schools? And my point is always – what I’m talking about is economic development. If we don’t have a vital and healthy state, if we don’t have money coming in from the outside, if we don’t have job creation, then the rest of those services suffer as well.”

The study was conducted by a Washington-D.C.-based accounting firm. It says the industry contributed $50 million in state and local taxes between 2009 and 2010. Filmmakers claimed $60-million in tax credits last year. Governor Rick Snyder’s newly released budget would reduce funding for the incentives, and cap the total amount to $25 million.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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