Film incentives would likely end in Michigan under Snyder

With the change of Governor may come a change in policy with regard to Michigan’s generous financial incentives for the film industry. Following, by way of background, is a clip from the Wall Street Journal:

…The set of the gritty cop show “Detroit 1-8-7” is one of more than 100 film and television productions that have flocked to Michigan in the last two years, the result of generous tax rebates. Producers have spent nearly $350 million in the state so far, a figure expected to reach $650 million by year’s end, up from $2 million in 2007, according to the Michigan Film Office. About 80% of these shoots take place in and around this iconic but much-maligned city, sprinkling a little stardust, optimism and controversy along the way.

Workers who used to build cars are learning to build sets. The entertainment sector is “a lifeboat as the auto industry adapts and restructures,” says Wayne County Executive Robert A. Ficano.

Signs of activity are everywhere. Hip-looking film-school grads on bicycles run errands in an empty warehouse that once served as a Chrysler distribution center and is now a cavernous 166,000-square-foot production studio for “Detroit 1-8-7.” Sets for the show, premiering on ABC Sept. 21, include a city morgue and a homicide unit with cluttered police desks and corkboards covered with mug shots…

The film incentive program offers up to a 42% tax rebate on any in-state expenses from rental cars, housing and food, or the cost of building a soundstage. Louisiana, by contrast, offers up to 35% in its highly popular program. After filming is completed, producers file a tax return, which is audited, and a check is sent out. Producers like to say that every dollar they spend in the state turns into $1.42…

The rebate has sparked criticism among lawmakers who argue the tax subsidy does not help the state bridge a $500 million budget deficit for fiscal 2011. Upcoming elections could threaten to reduce or even eliminate the incentive. Others argue that the nomadic film industry is not the best way to build stable, long-term growth.

Advocates counter that this argument misses the larger economic impact on small businesses like Just Delicious, whose scones were popular with Clint Eastwood and the crew on the set of “Gran Torino.” Or Small Plates, a chic restaurant in downtown Detroit that sees its business spike by 30% each time a production shoots downtown….

And, here, with the rest of the story, is a clip from AnnArbor.com:

…Lansing Mayor and Democratic candidate Virg Bernero reportedly told a crowd of policymakers and business leaders in Grand Rapids this morning that he would keep the film incentives if they’re truly creating jobs.

Ann Arbor venture capitalist and GOP candidate Rick Snyder earlier this month told AnnArbor.com that the film incentives were “a dumb thing to do.”

“It’s a fairly transient industry that largely has been in an escalating war of incentives across the nation,” Snyder said. But Snyder suggested the film incentives should be phased out gradually instead of being eliminated immediately. “One of the problems we have is whipsawing businesses by changing rules,” he said.

I’m still inclined to say that the incentives are bad policy, but, having seen what the film industry did for Baltimore, I’m willing to keep an open mind. So, how about your? Will this impact your vote come November?

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11 Comments

  1. Knox
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Republicans hate Hollywood. Film at 11:00.

  2. Edward
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I don’t care how much it costs, we need to find ways to bring attractive people to Michigan so that we can breed with them.

  3. Posted September 20, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Darn, I was actually thinking he wasn’t a bad candidate until now.

  4. K8
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    The Mayor of Baltimore, once he became Governor, dismantled the film industry there. He did it purely out of spite, based upon the way he was portrayed in The Wire.

  5. Frank
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Wow … I was voting for Rick “THE NERD” Snyder up until I read this …. he is using the old school thinking if he thinks the auto industry is going to make a come back …….. film incentives were not a dumb idea ! … it was a great idea … however I would agree that the program needs to be tweaked to insure real benifits to the state …. not just handing out $$ to out of state carpet baggers who bring their own crew and shut out michigan workers and talent …. Comm’on Rick …. give it a chance will ya !! ….. sorry but I will be voting for Virg !!

  6. Oliva
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Granholm was strong and compelling on the radio yesterday (WUOM or WDET, probably both) while talking about the value of keeping incentives for filmmaking in Michigan.

    (Snyder was not very impressive, I thought, when it was his turn to be interviewed by our local NPR station a couple days ago. His voice and views did not inspire confidence or strong spirit, as this punchy great [punched] state needs right now. I thought, “Maybe Governor Bernero would ‘hire Rick’ to serve in his new administration.” It’ll be interesting to see the candidates together in the debate.)

  7. Chaely
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    They’re both idiots so outside of murdering someone there’s not much either of them can do or say to buy my favor. On the other hand, anyone who thinks that pumping $650m into our economy & creating jobs is a “dumb idea” is pretty dumb themselves. I’d like to see either of them make a plan that could generate that kind of money in 4 years.

  8. Posted October 27, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I am personally affected by these tax incentives. I have lived in Michigan my whole life and I am starting a job at a game studio that moved here from LA to Detroit based solely on the incentives. Several of my friends that I went to school with are also benefiting from the enriched job market here, not to mention the large number of studios popping up all around us. If our future in Michigan is jeopardized by canceling the incentive program I will have to move away from everything I ever cared about here. It is a sad possibility, so thats why I most likely won’t be voting for Snyder.

  9. Alfredo
    Posted December 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Neither democrats or republicans are making much sense to me lately. It seems like nobody, no matter what kind of education they have, seems to actually make this economy better. But i will say that driving hollywood out of michigan has to be the dumbest thing i have ever seen any politician want to do in a time of economic crisis. The auto industry may be doing a little better than it was, but its going to take more than the chevy volt to bring us back and keep us out of the hole.

  10. Meta
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Now he says he’s open to discussion on it. The following quote comes from AnnArbor.com.

    SNYDER: We will have a dialogue with people in the film industry to be more financially efficient. If it was simply out-of-state people, it would be a different story.

    But we have people that have made investments and built studios and done things like that. I want to give them an opportunity to succeed given the capital investments they’ve made.

    But I believe there should be opportunities to be more efficient than we are today on how we manage that program.

    http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/more-from-rick-snyder-on-film-incentives-medc-social-media-detroit/

  11. tGak
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    This makes perfect sense. The governor doesn’t want documentation of what he’s doing to the state.

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