End of incentives for Florida film industry could prove costly, industry workers say

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Some major incentives that keep film professionals flocking to Florida are starting to dry up.

Channel 9's Tim Barber spoke with locals in the business who said the situation is so bad that some industry workers are leaving Florida.

Central Florida has been center stage for some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters.

But some of those in the industry worry the spotlight is burning out.

Three years ago, the state started giving away nearly $300 million in tax incentives. But all of that cash is spoken for, and the government is not planning on giving out more anytime soon.

Industry locals, like animation producer Mark Simon, are concerned about what that could mean for the state's economy.

"It's a shame. This is where I have raised my family. This is where I want to stay," said Simon.

Jon Swanson has worked in Orlando's film industry for more than 20 years.

"I have seen more people leave this area in the past two years than I have seen disappear in the past decade," said Swanson.

A records request by Channel 9 showed that the last $300 million of incentives was projected to pump more than $930 million into Florida's economy through the year 2016.

"If we don't replenish this film incentive program, we are going to lose this infrastructure. It's going to be harder and harder to recruit film companies to come here and use the infrastructure, for years," said Sheena Fowler, of the Metro Orlando Film Commission.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Film and Entertainment Office released a statement which says, in part: "The question of whether and how to continue to fund and administer the film incentive program is one for the legislature to consider going forward."