Georgia Cuts Loose With Tax Incentives; Steals ‘Footloose’ Re-make From Tennessee

The AJC brings us word that a remake of Footloose, the quintessential epic of our time (and bastardization of Ecclesiastes into pop culture), has been stolen from Memphis because Georgia offered a better incentive package.

“Director Craig Brewer says his remake of “Footloose” will be filmed in Georgia because Tennessee couldn’t match the incentives package.

The newspaper reported that Tennessee’s incentive package was about $1.6 million short of what Georgia offered. “

I can go on record as saying I not only do not want this movie re-made, but would like all copies of the original burned. However, this does show that there have been actual moments of progress made on Economic development in Georgia recently that are more material than a bunch of high-speed boat ramps.

The chief proponent of the movie tax incentives has been Senator Mitch Seabaugh, whose district includes Senioa’s Riverwood Studios. One industry blog sums up the importance of Georgia’s position:

It may seem like a silly thing to get so excited about, but for people like DeRossett, incentives such as these can mean the difference between buying a bigger, more expensive home and facing foreclosure on a smaller, cheaper one.

What’s truly good news for both DeRossett and Hollywood studios is that Georgia’s new incentive is generous, but not so generous that a skeptical public and fickle legislators are likely to demand it be repealed two or three years down the line.

“This is something you can count on,” says Georgia State Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, noting that the bill had near-unanimous support in both houses before being signed into law by Gov. Perdue on May 12. “And we’re not going to be taking it back. We want to build a long-term relationship with the industry.”

It’s been a rough few years for the Georgia film and TV community. The state had been on a hot streak in the late ’90s and early ’00s, attracting such studio films as 1999′s “The General’s Daughter” and 2000′s “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” But in 2003, Louisiana and New Mexico made available rich incentive packages, luring away productions that would have otherwise gone to the Peach State, such as 2004′s “Ray” (shot in Louisiana). The Georgia legislature fought back with a 9% tax credit in 2005, creating a record-setting economic impact in 2006, with film, television and video game companies contributing $475 million to the state economy, an increase from $124 million in 2004. But business fell off sharply again the following year as more states one-upped each other with increasingly generous incentives, culminating with Michigan’s passage of a 40-42% tax credit earlier this year.

While many will debate the benefits of supply side economics and tax credits to spur business, I think this is a great example of how tax credits should work. An incentive is given to lure economic activity here, that doesn’t have a major effect on business already operating here. Thus, there is little “loss” in the credit, because there was very little to be taxed before the credits were instituted.

Much is similar with the new Kia plant down in West Point, which is already expanding production. Most of the tax incentives given to lure Kia were to forgo property taxes that would never have been collected anyway, since the land that the plant now occupies would have remained fields and pine forests.

Instead, due to tax credits, Georgia now has a thriving movie business and a highly productive car plant where none previously existed.

Thus, kudos again to Senator Seabaugh. The man who lost his leadership position in the Senate because he wouldn’t vote for a tax increase has demonstrable evidence that certain tax cuts can bring in new revenue and jobs to Georgia.

And as for Tennessee, that should teach ’em for stealing our water.

13 comments

  1. drjay says:

    “Ecclesiastes assures us… that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh… and a time to weep. A time to mourn… and there is a time to dance. And there was a time for this law, but not anymore. See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of celebrating life. It’s the way it was in the beginning. It’s the way it’s always been. It’s the way it should be now. ”

    you mean you weren’t moved to tears by ren’s rousing plea before the town council???

    • Icarus says:

      No. That scene blew.

      I’m much more a fan of the Reverend Shaw Moore, inspiration to both myself and the Rev. Representative Bobby Franklin, who said:

      ” Even if this was not a law, which it is, I’m afraid I would have a lot of difficulty endorsing an enterprise which is as fraught with genuine peril as I believe this one to be. Besides the liquor and the drugs which always seem to accompany such an event the thing that distresses me even more, Ren, is the spiritual corruption that can be involved. These dances and this kind of music can be destructive, and, uh, Ren, I’m afraid you’re going to find most of the people in our community are gonna agree with me on this.”

  2. macho says:

    Kudos on the economic development, but Footloose needs to be remade about as much as “The Longest Yard” needed to be remade.

    • Icarus says:

      They may be temporary, but it’s also “something for nothing”.

      Tax credits are great for transient and “one time” projects, because they are easily moved based on where the best deal is.

      And while each movie is temporary, a studio industry and the workforce they need to support it are not.

      Hollywood has done quite well for almost a century with a long series of “temporary” projects. Yet, they’re losing production share because of their high tax base. And Georgia’s taking it. I call that a win.

      • drjay says:

        i’d be curious to see actual statistics, the article you highlight, really only shows one number (the pennsylvania stat) and it is a little unclear apparently–anecdotally, i have been involved in projects in sav’h and saw plenty of people spending money that would not be here were it not for the fact they were filming a movie…also a project like “last song” on tybee has the potential to to be marketed to have a long term impact, in fact they have already held a festival that was based on the carnival scene in the movie, that may become an annual event…but i would certainly be open to changing my mind if i saw numbers showing it to be a net loss for the state…

      • Eureka says:

        It also gets into the game of an arms race for trying to attract the film business. Just like we are seeing a massive arms race in terms of economic deveolpment for $10 and $15 an hour jobs we are seeing the same thing with film tax credits as 44 states have them in place.

        If anyone is really interested in the film tax credits(which I somewhat doubt) check out the actual study especially pages 12 and 13 which show research that states actually lose money on the programs(in some cases very badly)

        http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/sr173.pdf

  3. Tinkerhell says:

    Well I don’t know movie tax credits from funny red cowboy boots but Ic and the rest of you are all wet for dumping on one of the 80’s iconic works.
    “Pthththth” I say to you!
    Next you’ll be poopooing the likes of Caddyshack, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and The Road Warrior.

    How old were you during the 80’s???

    • drjay says:

      i’m with you, i love “footloose” as well as caddyshack and animal house and the brat pack movies…ic is the nattering nabob of negativity here, not me…

  4. Game Fan says:

    We don’t need to subsidide movies, we just need to encourage Bill Murray with cigars or whatever he wants. The rest will fall into place.

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