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Official: Entertainment big business in Georgia

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

While the economic downturn hit some industries hard, the entertainment industry has been performing well, according to Asante Bradford, digital entertainment liaison for the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Division.

Bradford spoke to approximately 50 business professionals about the positive economic impact of the entertainment industry on the state and the businesses community, during the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce's "SunTrust Early Bird Breakfast" on Thursday.

"For small businesses, it is an opportunity for them to expand and grow into a new industry," he said.

Bradford said that when a movie production company arrives on location, it often utilizes the services of businesses and professionals in the area, such as accountants, lawyers, rental car companies, restaurants and bars.

He said that when a movie or TV series films in a given community, it can create between 250 and 300 jobs for local crew professionals.

Bradford said crew professionals who are employed on a movie production may work for three to six months, and that those who are employed on a TV series production may work much longer.

"This is an industry that is doing very well right now," Bradford said in an interview.

According to Grant Wainscott, director of the Clayton County Department of Economic Development, the department created the Clayton County Film, Sports and Entertainment Office recently, as a one-stop shop for site-selection consultants for production companies interested in filming in Clayton County.

The office aims to provide site-selection consultants with location assistance, a resource directory with information on local businesses and entertainment professionals, and permitting and mobilization services, Wainscott said.

The web site of the entertainment office is currently under construction, and is anticipated to be up by this summer.

"Any opportunity to leverage existing resources, to help increase economic activity, makes a lot of sense right now," Wainscott said.

Wainscott said the film office is a way of marketing Clayton County to production companies, and that it provides an opportunity for residents and local businesses to be engaged in those productions.

According to Bradford, the state provides economic opportunities for production companies that choose Georgia. The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act is targeted toward production companies that have spent a minimum of $500,000 in the state on qualified production and post-production expenses within a year. These companies are eligible for the 20 percent investment tax credit. The act was passed into law in 2008, he added.

Qualified expenses include studio rentals, vehicle rentals and location fees, Bradford said.

He said entertainment production in Georgia had an economic impact of $1.37 billion in the 2009 calendar year.

"Film, television and video-game production is growing exponentially in Georgia," Bradford said. "Entertainment projects are being produced all over the state."