The Indiana General Assembly is considering a bill that would create incentives for film and other media productions in Indiana. Senate Bill 262, which was nearly unanimously approved this week by the Senate, would allow the newly-established Indiana Destination Development Corp. to create a film and media incentive program to entice more production to Indiana. Tony Samuel, president of Samuel Solutions Group, says having such a program will be a boon for economic development in the state.
Currently, 32 states have some form of incentive program. Samuel tells Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman media production is a $300 billion industry and Indiana is currently getting just a small slice of that pie.
“Compared to Ilinois, for example, they generate almost $2 billion per year in wages in media production. We’re only at less than $250 million. Kentucky is about $800 million. Pennsylvania (is at) about $900 million. So there’s more that we can do but every state has incentives that attract producers to that state and we don’t have one in Indiana; we need one to be competitive with other states.”
The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee and passed by the full Senate by a vote of 47-2.
If signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb, the bill would go into effect July 1, 2021. In addition to creating the incentive program, the bill would allow the IDDC to employ a film commissioner. The IDDC would also work with the Office of Management and Budget to provide a report to the interim study committee on fiscal policy detailing incentives offered in other states and providing a recommendation on the type of incentives Indiana should offer.
“There is so much more revenue that will be generated that it’ll be worth offering that incentive, but it’s just a matter of doing it right for Indiana,” said Samuel. “So this bill tasks the State Budget Agency to look at these other 32 states and come up with a plan that’s competitive, but still fiscally responsible for Indiana.”
Samuel says since 2016, Indiana has lost $100 million in business, half of which involves the Madam C.J. Walker series on Netflix, which is shooting in Toronto instead of Indianapolis. He also cites the film “The Fault in Our Stars,” which is set in Indianapolis but was filmed in Pittsburgh.
Samuel adds many in the media industry are aware of what the state could offer, but ultimately choose other locations because of the competitive incentives.
“They’re familiar with Indiana. They know that there’s a workforce here; this bill would grow that workforce. Ultimately, this is a jobs and economic development bill. It’s going to raise incomes for folks that are in the businesses of camera rental, costumes, catering, hospitality, video graphics, animation, music, so it’s a bill that will create more in that industry.”
The bill now moves to the House for consideration. The short legislative session is slated to end in mid-March.