Leaders trek to Raleigh for film incentives push - WNCN: News, Weather

Leaders trek to Raleigh for film incentives push

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Local lawmakers are fighting to keep Wilmington the home of major film productions. Local lawmakers are fighting to keep Wilmington the home of major film productions.
RALEIGH, NC (WECT) -

Local lawmakers are fighting to keep the Cape Fear region the home of major film productions.

Several local leaders took their film fight to a special press conference Wednesday at the state capital in Raleigh. Many politicians from southeastern North Carolina want to continue offering incentive tax breaks to film companies so they will continue bringing their productions to the area.

"It's jobs. It's all about jobs," Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. "I believe it's our responsibility not only as legislators, but elected officials locally to try to bring jobs back into our community."

The Mayor was joined in the press room of the General Assembly by legislators from across the state. Susi Hamilton, a state representative from New Hanover County, led the conference.

"The fact that we're even engaging in this discussion is threatening the industry as we speak," said Hamilton.

Politicians were not the only ones speaking out. Film fans and executives packed the press conference as well.

"If we don't do something, we'll lose the business to Georgia. They're chomping at the bit, so is South Carolina," said independent film actor Neal Howes.

Becki Gray, a member of the John Locke Foundation, came to the event as an anti-film incentives advocate. Gray and other members of the foundation are adamantly opposed to offering the tax breaks.

"If North Carolina's a good place to film, movies and TV shows, the industry will come here. We don't have to bribe them to come here. It's just a bad deal for North Carolina," said Gray.

Hamilton refuted that notion.

"It's a terrible assertion. Over the last 10 years, the industry has spent over a billion dollars in this state, and our expenditures don't come anywhere close to that number," explained Hamilton.

Representative Hamilton is drafting a bill to keep the incentives from going away at the end of the year. There is no word as to when or if that bill will even be heard in the house.

"I know the discussion is going to come up, whether or not they're going to run my bill and do this the right way. Only time will tell," said Hamilton.

Hamilton's bill to keep film incentives in North Carolina was not on the finance committee's docket for Wednesday evening.

Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.

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