• Florida lawmakers take first step to lure back film, TV industry

    By: Jamie Holmes

    Updated:

    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.


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    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.

    Also read: Oprah Winfrey Network is filming a new show in Orlando, but why aren't more?

    “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.

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