That impact on small businesses continues today. More than 15,000 Georgia businesses support our state’s film industry. The film tax credit fuels opportunities for tens of thousands of hardworking Georgians across the state, creating jobs that range from electricians and construction workers to caterers and truck drivers. Families and small businesses throughout the state count on the opportunities created by the tax credit.
Studio infrastructure investment is on the rise, also bringing jobs and economic development to communities throughout Georgia. When I became governor, the state had only 47,000 square feet of studio soundstage space. By 2027, we’re projected to have 7 million square feet, so much that Hollywood executives marvel at the options they find here. Building all that infrastructure created thousands of high-paying jobs and boosted local property tax revenues.
Early in my first term, I visited London to woo Pinewood Studios, which soon built a world-class facility where many Marvel films were produced. In 2019, Georgia investors bought out the property and rebranded it as Trilith. It’s created a magnet for Fayette County to attract other development.
In those years, film companies would fly in crews from elsewhere because Georgia didn’t have the skilled workforce it needed, so I worked with legislators and educators to create the Georgia Film Academy, which now has thousands of graduates working in the state. The popularity of the subject led university system and technical college campuses across Georgia to offer film-related classes. Today, Georgia has a highly experienced crew that is the envy of many other states and countries. The average on-set production job in Georgia pays $86,000 a year, and a recent production here employed cast and crew from nearly 40 counties.
The film tax credit has worked as its creators intended, with film industry spending growing to $4.4 billion in the most recent year recorded. When I’d travel to Los Angeles to pitch Georgia to studios, I let them know the film tax credit had strong support at the Capitol – words that gave studios the confidence to plan long-term for projects in Georgia. Likewise, Gov. Brian Kemp’s stewardship of the program has led to a filming boom during his time in office.
As legislators debate the future of the film tax credit, they absolutely must do their due diligence and ensure that taxpayers are getting a good deal. At the same time, we must protect what we’ve built and the investments Georgians have made. Across the state, Georgia small businesses that offer carpeting, catering, dry cleaning, makeup and transportation services now depend on the revenues that come from film production.
As governor, I saw other states abandon their film programs and, as a result, their projects and their people moved to Georgia. If we lose the incentive, it’s Georgians who’ve built their careers and their businesses around the industry who’ll get hurt, not the film companies, which will just rent a studio somewhere else. A recent economic study found that without the incentive, 92 percent of film projects would not have come to Georgia. It also showed that for every $1 in film tax credits, $6.30 flows into our economy.
We remain the No. 1 place in the nation to do business because pro-jobs leaders have created a welcoming regulatory climate that provides businesses with stability and predictability – the keys to garnering development dollars. We’ve built an incredible foundation for the film industry that’s the envy of other states anxious to enjoy our success. With the wise leadership at the helm of Georgia today, the best is yet to come.
Deal served as governor of Georgia from 2011 to 2019.