Florida TaxWatch released a report on Thursday examining how other states lure film and television projects to do business in their states and what Florida can learn from them.

“The use of economic incentives has created an arms race between states and countries competing for film and television productions and the resulting job creation and economic development,” Florida TaxWatch noted. “While TaxWatch maintains that incentives should not be used as a substitute for the fundamentals of good economic growth, TaxWatch does recommend that incentives for the film and television industry be considered as a part of the Florida’s overall economic development strategy.”

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro offered his take on the report on Thursday.

“Economic development has been a longtime focus of the Sunshine State,” said Calabro. “Florida’s business-friendly tax climate, good weather, and beaches have their advantages; however, state policymakers should strongly consider a sound, fiscally-responsible incentive program to help grow targeted industries such as film and television production.”

The report noted across the nation direct film and television industry jobs led to $53 billion in wages in 2016 and the 342,000 jobs they created paid 42 percent higher than the national average salary. Florida TaxWatch noted this industry could grow in the Sunshine State leading to more jobs and revenue.

“In 2017, there were more than 4,400 established businesses in Florida’s film and entertainment industry (excluding digital media), employing more than 26,000 Floridians. With the advent of digital technology and the ability to view content through any number of platforms, job creation and revenue could increase for state and local governments,” Florida TaxWatch insisted.

“There has never been more content available to viewers than there is today and we believe that content should be created in Florida, creating high-wage jobs for Floridians, pumping new money into our economy, and showing off our state on the large, small and mobile screen,” noted John Lux, the executive director of Film Florida Entertainment Production Association. “Florida TaxWatch has an impeccable record of integrity, professionalism, and quality in their research and we appreciate their efforts to highlight the current state of the industry in Florida.”

“Florida once had the most fiscally conservative program in America that had a solid return-on-investment to the state,” said Paul Sirmons, a Florida-based independent producer who served as state film commissioner under Gov. Jeb Bush. “We can do that now with a targeted program that will send a signal to the industry in Florida, the United States, and the world that Florida is open for business and ready to lure in the very high-wage jobs in the film, television and digital media industry. It wouldn’t take much to put Floridians back to work here, generate new revenues and boost tourism — which movies and TV shows have been shown to do quite effectively.”

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