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The Hoot Smalley Report #4: Michigan Wants Film Industry, Too

Okay, for anyone out there that thinks my perspective about New Mexico’s Film Incentives not being competitve is unfounded, I present the following: A letter from Michigan State Senator Glida Z Jacobs, and Michigan’s ADVERTISED proposal for the expansion of their Michigan Business Tax Act which can be found at the Michigan Legislature website under Document - Section 208.1455.

While I don’t blame Michigan for being competitive I do say that if we hope to compete we as New Mexicans need to change the paradigm and further reinforce our incentives with private enterprise. Utah and Oregon are doing similar legislation that is leaving us in the dust.

Outside of New York and L.A. we are currently ranked sixth.

Let’s get to work New Mexico!

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Let Michigan's Film Incentives Work

May 13, 2009 by Senator Glida Z Jacobs

Last year, the Michigan Legislature approved the country’s most aggressive incentive package for the film and digital media industries with overwhelming support. Now these incentives are under fire from some who say they are “too successful.” Those arguments are shortsighted. Instead of capping these incentives I believe that we should let them continue working and bringing new jobs and industries to Michigan.

Michigan is reaping benefits from these new film incentives. We’ve seen 136 applications for productions, 71 were approved and 35 were completed by the end of 2008. All of that happened in just the first year of the film incentives.

Just this year we have heard about new movie deals and new studios coming into our state. Southfield-based Parallax Productions signed a deal with New Castle Entertainment to create several movies worth as much as $60 million. In early April a new $146 million dollar studio complex was announced for Allen Park. Two other studios are slated to open in the next year, and short term training programs are being offered by community colleges and universities.

Yes the state has collected taxes and yes we have paid incentive money back to these productions. This is what film incentive critics focus on: the money the state pays back to productions. What the critics fail to consider is the money that comes into our communities from these same productions. The local trophy shop that provided trophies for a movie about high school students, the hotel rooms and homes that are rented for actors, the locals who are hired for extras, the caterers that provide food, and the list will only grow longer if we just let these film incentives work. Hollywood is very good at acting quickly, investing heavily, and promoting globally. We are courting this industry to jar our state off of its sole dependence on the auto industry and it is working.

At least one of our neighbors, Ohio, is looking at our film incentives and trying to figure out how they can do better. Ohio is facing a $7.5 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years. And yet they are seriously trying to adopt any incentive package that might compete with ours. Ohio lawmakers understand that film incentives could be a critical investment to diversify their economy.

That is the point of the film incentives and that is what they are doing for Michigan: diversifying our economy and creating new jobs and opportunities. The film industry is animation and special effects studios, digital media, and gaming consoles. These are the jobs of the future that will keep our young people here and draw talented newcomers into Michigan.

Michigan Film Production Incentives * Information Disclaimer 40% Tax Rebate (refundable tax credit) For Michigan Production (42% in Core Cities) Out of State Below The Line wages are pegged at 30%. Above The Line 40%. 40% refundable tax credit against Michigan Business Tax (MBT) liability for qualified film or digital media pre-production, production, and postproduction costs incurred in Michigan. Alternatively could be claimed against Michigan income tax withholding tax liability. Refundable and assignable (transferable). This is a “refund” or “tax rebate” equal to 40% of qualified production expenditures, not a credit against taxes owed. Additional 2% credit in core communities. Wages paid to non-Michigan residents eligible as a qualified expenditure capped at $2 million per person per production. $50,000 minimum spend. No project cap. No annual cap. No sunset. Income Tax Exemption for Reinvestment in Michigan Productions Allow an income tax deduction equal to all or a portion of a gain realized from an equity investment of at least $25,000 in an qualified production in Michigan, if the initial investment plus the gain, or a portion of the gain, is reinvested in a new qualified production within one year. Sunset on September 30, 2015.

Infrastructure Development Incentives Film & Digital Media Infrastructure Investment Tax Credit Investment of $250,000 or more in Michigan film or digital media production infrastructure (such as studios, equipment, or other facilities) eligible for a 25% tax credit against MBT liability. Credit is assignable or may be carried forward. Total credits allowed limited to $10 million annually. Credit reduced for brownfield credits claimed for same investment. Sunset on September 30, 2015. MEGA Eligibility for Film & Digital Media Production Companies Authorize film and digital media production companies to apply for and receive tax credits issued by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) against MBT liability.

FINANCING INCENTIVES Film and Digital Media Investment Loans (not currently funded) Authorize the Michigan Strategic Fund to offer loans from the Jobs for Michigan Investment Fund (part of 21st Century Jobs Fund Program) for up to $15 million per qualifying film and digital media productions in Michigan. Loans can be 0% with backend participation by the Jobs for Michigan Investment Fund in lieu of interest. Terms of loans are negotiated and production budget must be at least $2 million. A guarantor for the loan must be in place. Production must be wholly or substantially shot in Michigan. Qualified production company eligible for both loan and 40% production tax credit.

Choose Michigan Film and Digital Media Production Loan Program (not currently funded) Authorize a qualified production company to receive all or a portion of the value of discounted tax credits the company is eligible to receive in the form of a loan from the Jobs for Michigan Investment Fund approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund. Credits would be pledged for the repayment of the loan. Loans would be provided an interest rate of up to 2%. Minimum loan amount would be $500,000. No loan would be greater than the discounted value of the tax incentives pledged. Production company would be responsible for loan repayment regardless of performance of primary tax incentive.

Capital Access Program for Film and Digital Media Producers (not currently funded) Authorize film and digital media production companies to participate in the capital access program established by the Michigan Strategic Fund under the 21st Century Jobs Program. Participating banks throughout Michigan would offer CAP loans directly to production companies that need credit enhancement. Similar to a loan loss reserve fund, the bank, the production company, and the Michigan Strategic Fund pay a small premium into a reserve that makes it possible for the company to receive fixed asset and working capital financing in the form of a private loan from the bank.

Workforce Development Incentives Film & Digital Media Worker Job Training Tax Credit 50% refundable MBT tax credit for expenditures incurred by an eligible production company to provide on-the-job training for Michigan residents in advanced below-the-line crew positions on qualified productions. Expenditures eligible for job training tax credit could not also be claimed for the 40% production tax credit. Sunset on September 30, 2015.

Enhance Michigan Film Office Enhance Michigan Film Office Formalize, update, and enhance the powers, duties, and functions of the Michigan Film Office and Michigan Film Advisory Commission. Transfer Office to the Michigan Strategic Fund with staff support and related resources provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Change name of Michigan Film Commission Advisory Commission to the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council and increase terms of office for members of Council from 3 to 4 years with staggered terms. Prohibit authorized claims of agency or employment relationship with the Film Office. Repeal Sections 21 and 22 of the History, Arts, and Libraries Act. Increase Financial Support for Michigan Film Office Create the Michigan Film Promotion Fund to support and provide additional dedicated funding to support the Michigan Film Office. Charge a 0.5% application and redemption fee for all film-related tax credits, with proceeds deposited in the Michigan Film Promotion Fund to support the Michigan Film Office. Require 50% of any state earnings on a loan or investment in a production from the Jobs for Michigan Investment Fund be deposited in the Michigan Film Promotion Fund. * Information Disclaimer: This is a Preliminary summary of proposals. Verify info with the Michigan Film Office. For The Michigan Film Office Text of the Michigan Film Incentive Bills go here: [link]

 
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