ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Florida lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing to bring the film industry back to the state, as well as thousands of lost jobs and billions in lost revenue that has gone to Georgia.
Three years ago, Florida ended its tax break for feature production companies that shot in the Sunshine State, largely because opponents claimed the return was not there.
In that void, Georgia built a city of soundstages, apartments and warehouses. Now, Florida lawmakers seem to realize there's a problem.
- Florida police officer suspended after allowing couple to have sex in patrol car
- Service dog has tail amputated after 'inhumane' bathing by Satellite Beach groomer, officials say
- Florida mom finds videos on YouTube, YouTube Kids containing suicide tips
- VIDEO: Man accused of murdering wife in Delaney Park attended gay spa more than 70 times, records show
Republican state Sen. Joe Gruters is pushing for up to $2 million in grants for production companies that do 70 percent of their film in Florida.
According to the Georgia governor's office, the Peach State's film business generated more than $9.5 billion in 2017. Compare that to another Florida's big commodity, oranges, which make the state $8.6 billion a year.
In other words, Florida losing the film industry is like taking the entire Florida citrus industry, every single citrus tree, and moving it all to Georgia.
“We just want to work with the state to create one of the most conservative programs out there so that we can put our people to work," Gruters said.
For Orlando, it could mean bringing back a workforce that's now in Georgia, and would potentially keep future film grads at Full Sail University and UCF in the state.
“We are not out of this game,” said Sheena Fowler, of the Orlando Economic Partnership.
A 2015 study by the state legislature found Florida got $0.43 back for every dollar awarded in tax incentives to feature film productions. Supporters say that data refers to a program that died three years ago, and this new bill fixes every flaw from the old program.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.