Atlanta OKs public funds for studio expansion

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Atlanta OKs public funds for studio expansion

Atlanta’s economic development agency is setting the stage for a local film studio to receive nearly $500,000 in taxpayer funds for a major expansion.

Invest Atlanta’s board members voted unanimously Thursday to provide up to $496,000 in property tax dollars from a south Atlanta tax district to help fund a $3.3 million expansion of the EUE/Screen Gems studio at Lakewood.

The money will help pay for two new soundstages at the sprawling studio, which opened about two years ago and has already hosted 350 productions. Kris Bagwell, a studio vice president, said the facility was at capacity from the moment it opened, but that executives have embraced a cautious expansion strategy.

“We’re trying to be smart about building enough and filling up what we have,” he said.

The studio is one of several businesses in metro Atlanta that have benefited from a 2008 tax break targeted at TV and movie production companies. Some counties and cities have gotten into the act, too, doling out incentives to lure in projects.

Atlanta dished out up to $1.1 million in property taxes from the tax district for the first phase of the Screen Gems project in 2010. City officials said Thursday using public funds to fuel a new expansion would help create more jobs and drive additional growth.

“We really are becoming Hollywood South with projects like this,” said Brian McGowan, Invest Atlanta’s president. “The demand is there, and it’s really a great opportunity to bring in jobs.”

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