When I was elected to the Florida House in November 2020, one issue that immediately attracted me was the film and television production industry. For years, I’ve seen the Georgia Peach at the end of credits and wondered why I didn’t see a Florida Orange or Palm Tree more. It seemed like common sense that Florida would have a booming film and television production industry.
I quickly learned of the challenges. Florida is the only state in the Southeast, and one of just 17 states in the country, without a program to compete for film and television projects. Florida is at a significant competitive disadvantage.
The result: In recent years, Florida has lost close to 100 major film and television projects that would have spent more than $1.5 billion in Florida, used 250,000 hotel room nights, and provided 125,000 cast and crew jobs for Floridians.
That’s why I have filed HB 217. It’s a common-sense Targeted High Wage Production Rebate Program that will bring more high-paying jobs, widen the industry’s impact on the state by giving a bonus for underutilized areas, enhance tourism by choosing projects that encourage visitation to the state and attract more family-friendly productions to the state.
Selection of projects will be prioritized to those offering the highest return on investment and economic benefit. The ROI will be at least 1:1, meaning the state makes money while creating at least $5 of in-state spending for each dollar invested.
This program is performance-based. Projects receive their rebate only after they have spent their money in the state and have met all of the program’s requirements, safeguarding the program.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Workforce Statistics and Economic Research, in 2020, the average annual wage for a film and entertainment industry professional in Florida was $89,390 exceeding the state’s average annual wage for all industries by 60.1%.
The industry produces high-wage jobs, the type of jobs that will help as we continue to grow and diversify Florida’s economy. These jobs are leaving high-tax states like California and New York, and we should be embracing these jobs, not pushing them to surrounding states like Texas and Georgia.
When an average feature film or television series films in a location, they spend $20 million in the local community while hiring 1,500+ Floridians. One single production can put $150,000 per day directly in the pockets of citizens and small businesses. This also generates significant local and state tax revenues.
The industry also supports indirect jobs and wages for thousands of small businesses, including caterers, dry cleaners, hotels, florists, hardware and lumber suppliers, security guards and off-duty law enforcement officers.
It’s a very clean and green industry too, which is important to all of us in the Florida House.
As our recent Florida House Majority “Freedom Firewall” video said so well, Florida’s economy came back faster and stronger. We’re focused on the future, where we need great jobs and a clean environment. And in Florida, common-sense rules.
Georgia recently announced a record-breaking 2021 fiscal year with $4 billion in direct spending on productions in the state. Our Republican counterparts in Oklahoma just announced an upgrade to their film program. Texas also continues to support the film and television production industry.
There is more appetite for original content in the marketplace than ever before, which means there has never been more money available to create new content. Common sense tells me that content should be made in Florida, creating jobs, pumping new money from outside Florida into our economy and enhancing tourism. Please join me in advocating for HB 217.
Rep. Dana Trabulsy serves in the Florida House from District 84 in St. Lucie County.