Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Michigan Lands Movie Studio, 5000 New Jobs

Tricia Kinley, tax and budget policy director for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and Cassis puppet, argues against Michigan's movie incentives last October.

"But the incentives are so off-the-charts generous, and most of these tax refunds are going to go to companies that are unlikely to make Michigan their primary location."

Wrong again. With approval of MEGA credits set for this morning, Motown Motion Picture will be open for business this year, creating over 5000 new jobs.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to announce today plans for a $54 million film studio project that could bring about 5,000 new jobs to the state, her spokeswoman confirmed Monday.

"This is the direct result of the aggressive film incentive that the governor called for in her State of the State in 2008," Liz Boyd said late Monday. "The film incentives were designed to not just bring new film projects to Michigan ... but also to grow an industry that will provide long-term job growth for the state."

The studio will be located in Pontiac, a city that can surely use the economic development, at the 600,000-square-foot space at General Motors Corp.'s former Centerpoint truck plant. The state will not fund the construction, but is expected to offer $101 million in credits over 12 years, and $15 million in other film tax credits.

So far, these incentives have paid off in more ways than one. From April of 2008 to January of this year, Michigan's movie industry has created over $100 million in revenue. Before the incentive package in 2007, it only generated $4 million. 71 projects have been approved, 37 movies have been completed, and 3,000 direct jobs have been created, with wages totaling $57 million dollars.

Demand for trained workers is fierce, and local colleges are offering short term classes to get displaced workers "on the set immediately". Wayne State University, Madonna University, Henry Ford Community College, Oakland Community College, Macomb Community College, just to name a few, are utilizing No Worker Left Behind funds to train people as quick as they can to fill the need. And for a state that is looking for ways to stop the "brain drain" of college age students leaving for other places, this has been a real incentive for them to stay here. Madonna senior Christy Derry worked as an extra on a movie shot in Howell, and is hoping to land a bigger role in the future.

"Now we can get our feet wet without having to go out to L.A. and compete with people who have been in the industry for years," Derry said. "The industry is coming to us."

To add it up - the movie industry is generating thousands permanent jobs, bringing millions in revenue and investment to the state (not to mention instant revenue to the cities where these movies are filmed), boosting college attendance, creating a positive image of Michigan around the country, and giving our younger people a reason to stay here.

"Conservative" reaction? "Just say no".

Naturally, this is something the Senate Republicans seek to stop from happening. Capping the film credits and putting a huge damper on this growing industry is job number one for Nancy Cassis, and, keep in mind when you read this next quote, she just voted to push our deficit over $2 billion, with no promise of job creation behind it.

"We decided to wait and see what we could get done in 2009," said Cassis, of the film credits. "I think it will be one of the most important issues of 2009. We are expected to have a $500 million to $1 billion deficit. Something must be done. We are absolutely bleeding our general fund to give incentives to the movie industry."

Um, who's bleeding who here?

Why are Senate Republicans against jobs and investment in Michigan? Because the right wing economic extremists tell them to be. Here is Michael LaFaive, director of fiscal policy for the Mackinac Center, making an incorrect and ludicrous assessment of the situation.

He said the program only benefits businesses in the communities where filming is taking place, while businesses in neighboring communities have either stagnant or no growth in the down economy.

As a result, the incentive program, at best, is having no positive economic impact — and, at worst, is a direct hit to the state’s economy, LaFaive said.

Creating thousands of jobs, bringing millions in investment, that is a bad thing in the eyes of the "conservatives". If we followed the advice of the Chamber of Commerce, the Senate Republicans, and the Mackinac Center, none of this would be happening.

Wow. It's a darn good thing we voted them out of power, huh? Remember this, Michigan. When these people offer up their economic “advice”, simply recall just how wrong they can be.