Elections 'could threaten' Michigan's film incentives, Wall Street Journal says
Michigan's film industry incentives -- which provide a cash rebate of up to 42 percent of a production company's spending in Michigan -- are becoming a centerpiece in the debate over the future of Michigan's economic development strategy.
The Wall Street Journal, in a story today profiling the effect of the incentives on Michigan's economy, reported that the film incentives could be eliminated as lawmakers start to question their effectiveness.
Nathan Bomey | AnnArbor.com
Movie and TV companies have spent nearly $350 million in Michigan since the incentives were approved in spring 2008, WSJ reported, citing statistics from the state's Michigan Film Office. That's up from $2 million in 2007.
Film companies created some 6,763 production jobs and some 4,000 for extras, the Detroit Free Press reported earlier this month.
In the Ann Arbor area, movie companies have shot about 12 major productions, including Richard Gere's "The Double" and Drew Barrymore's "Whip It." The Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau's Ann Arbor Film Office estimates that, in 2009, film companies bought 20,000 room nights in the Ann Arbor region -- the equivalent of filling a 150-room hotel for more than four months.
But lawmakers are questioning whether the state budget can afford to continue paying film companies to shoot productions here. And the debate over the film incentives is becoming part of the conversation in Michigan's gubernatorial race.
Lansing Mayor and Democratic candidate Virg Bernero reportedly told a crowd of policymakers and business leaders in Grand Rapids this morning that he would keep the film incentives if they're truly creating jobs.
Ann Arbor venture capitalist and GOP candidate Rick Snyder earlier this month told AnnArbor.com that the film incentives were "a dumb thing to do."
"It's a fairly transient industry that largely has been in an escalating war of incentives across the nation," Snyder said.
But Snyder suggested the film incentives should be phased out gradually instead of being eliminated immediately.
"One of the problems we have is whipsawing businesses by changing rules," he said.