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North Carolina Governor Helps Revive Hopes for Renewal of State’s Production Tax Credit

North Carolina’s 25% production tax incentive is due to expire on Jan. 1, 2015, but a news release from the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, has revived hopes among advocates of the credits that the program will be renewed in the coming year.

Last summer, prospects looked bleak for the program after lawmakers approved a state budget that let the program sunset. But McCrory on Tuesday released estimates of the benefits that TV and movie production bring to the state.

With more than 60 productions registered by the North Carolina Film Office in 2013, and a record high of 5,700 production days, McCrory’s office said that the activity generated $254 million in spending and created more than 4,000 jobs for crew members.

“In addition to our state’s beauty, we’ve developed the workforce and artists that make North Carolina an ideal place to produce quality projects efficiently,” McCrory said.

North Carolina Film Office director Aaron Syrett said that the past three years “have produced unheralded numbers in direct in-state spending and job opportunities.”

Shows like Showtime’s “Homeland” (pictured), CBS’s “Under the Dome,” and Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” shoot in the state, and such features as “Tammy” and “Careful What You Wish For” shot there.

That kind of boosterism is a contrast to last summer, when Republicans in the state legislature along with some Democrats, criticized the program and doubted that it was producing lasting jobs. The state paid out nearly $70 million in incentives in 2012.

Advocates for continuing the program — including crew members and studio executives — plan to lobby lawmakers in advance of the next legislative session in May. But some expressed encouragement by McCrory’s announcement as a sign that he would back an extension of the tax credits.

Because of competition from states like North Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana, industry groups in California have been planning a lobbying push for their state to expand its $100-million-per-year program, fearing the exodus of one-hour dramas and feature films in particular. The possibility that North Carolina would end its credits, however, reflected continued doubts over how much value they returned to states.

But advocates have argued that the state would lose its production base, perhaps to nearby Georgia, which has gained movies and TV shows in recent years. It offers a 30% incentive, apparently enough to make the difference in producer decisions. The first “Hunger Games” shot in North Carolina, but the second was shot in Georgia. North Carolina’s incentive is a rebate, while Georgia offers a credit. Backers of North Carolina’s incentive say that Georgia’s program, at least for now, offers producers more certainty.

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