COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho Giving Hollywood incentives for filming in Idaho makes economic sense, says a group that hopes the Legislature will agree.
Several states provide incentives, such as tax rebates, said Russ Symon, co-founder of the Kootenai and North Idaho's Film, Video and Entertainment Society.
After efforts to attract the film industry failed in previous years, Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, is drafting proposed legislation that would give tax rebates to the film industry for bringing work to the state.
In Utah, incentives of $263,000 for "High School Musical" and $500,000 for "High School Musical 2" resulted in a $13.3 million return for the state, Symon told the Coeur d'Alene Press.
"That's a sample of what can happen here," he said.
It's reasonable to calculate a return of $5 million to $10 million from a $1 million incentive, using an economic multiplier of money spent by production companies, Symon said.
The jobs would be windfalls for college students and others who benefit from temporary jobs, said WJ Lazerus, a group co-founder.
"The more films we get, the more experience we get," he said. "It's all about trying to get jobs up here."
Nationally, the TV and film industry created 1.3 million jobs in 2005, creating $30.2 billion in wages, said Steve Griffitts, president of Jobs Plus, an organization that recruits companies to come to north Idaho, bringing jobs and economic development. That also meant $10 billion in sales taxes, he said.
"This is an economic boon to areas that get involved," he said. "Now, we're getting 100 percent of nothing."
Dani Zibell-Wolfe, vice president of tourism for the Coeur d'Alene Area Chamber of Commerce, said local businesses would benefit.
"They will be working with businesses, people who live here," she said. "They will spend their money here. You need to get the business community in line with you. Partnerships are important."
The economic effect is similar to that of tourism, she said.
"It puts heads in beds," she said. "It expands so much. The money gets spent over and over again."
Some legislators who voted against the proposal last year did so because they weren't convinced it would benefit enough Idahoans.
"My issue is, why are we singling out one particular industry, instead of helping businesses here in the state?" asked Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene.
Anderson's proposed legislation would make $1 million a year available to provide 20 percent tax rebates on goods and services purchased in the state by film companies, as long as 20 percent of the production company's crew was hired in state.
Anderson's plan would increase the rebate amount and percentage of residents hired by 5 percent a year, reaching 35 percent after five years.
Kathleen Haase, film specialist with the Idaho Department of Commerce, said several legislators support the idea, but there is also strong opposition.