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Missouri considers reboot of film tax incentive program

A proposal to lauch an incentive program aimed at film studios is circulating through the capitol in Jefferson City.

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, is a proponent of the idea of bringing back the incentives, which ended in November 2013. “Maybe it’s time to revisit: What is the economic benefit to Missouri and Missourians if we were to attract film production here,” Kehoe said.

One of the last film productions to benefit from the incentive was 20th Century Fox’s “Gone Girl,” which was filmed, in part, in Cape Girardeau. Kehoe said that area has seen the economic benefits of being the site of a major motion picture.

“Multiple people come to see where that was filmed, where the bar was, where that particular actor was, etc.”

A bill that would restore the program with the same $4.5 million budget was introduced by Rep. Kathryn Swan, R- Cape Girardeau.

Before the program ended, the Missouri Film Commission oversaw which projects were given a portion of the program’s $4.5 million budget. The then-chair of the commission, Bill Lennon, wrote in a 2012 report that the productions of “Up in the Air,” and “Winter’s Bone” had a significant impact on local economies.

“These two productions alone employed over 130 Missourians and spent over $12 million our state. Over 40 different in-state professions were impacted by these productions: electricians, caterers, drivers, musicians, carpenters, etc.,” Lennon said.

“Other states are getting very, very good at this,” Kehoe said. The Netflix series “Ozark” is based in the Lake of the Ozarks, but is primarily shot in Georgia. “They have seen the economic benefit of a film crew coming in for six, eight weeks, five months.”

Georgia’s film tax incentive program has no maximum spending cap, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kehoe said the difference in cost for production lost Missouri the series.

“I was a part of meetings three years ago, (Netflix) wanted to film everything here at the Lake of the Ozarks. However, Georgia had tax credits, we did not,” Kehoe said.

Revenue collection issues could stall the bill from advancing though, Kehoe said. As of January, the Missouri Department of Revenue was behind schedule by over $500 million.

Republican leadership said they were confident that revenue would even out, while some Democrats said it could impact next year’s budge.

“Certainly if some of the budget projections don’t come through with our revenue this year, then conversations like this will not be on the table,” Kehoe said.

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