Governor Bob McDonnell today ceremonially signed into law Virginia's first-ever tax credit legislation for the motion picture industry. He officially signed two bills: SB257, sponsored by Senator L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth); and HB861, sponsored by Delegate Ben Cline (R-Lexington). Designed to recruit the production of television, film, documentaries and interactive digital media to Virginia, this legislation was part of the Governor's successful Jobs and Opportunity" economic development agenda which received broad bipartisan support during the past session of the General Assembly. You can read more about the "Jobs and Opportunity" agenda by clicking here. Governor McDonnell also highlighted a budget amendment he requested during the 2010 session which increases funding to the Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund from $200,000 to $2 million for FY 2011. This was also a part of the Governor's "Jobs and Opportunity" agenda.
The Governor was joined at today's event by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, members of the Virginia General Assembly and noted local actor and director Tim Reid. The ceremony was held at St. John's Church in Richmond, the recent site for the filming of Keepers of the Flame, a documentary celebrating the contributions of Virginians who are shining examples of those dedicated to justice, liberty and democracy. Reid, the film's director, is the founder of New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, and an award-winning actor currently appearing in the acclaimed HBO mini-series Treme.
Speaking about today's ceremonial bill signing, Governor McDonnell commented, "These measures are important parts of our goal to increase film production in the Commonwealth. They are smart investments to create jobs and raise revenue through economic growth. Increasing funding for the Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund will make us more competitive in attracting new productions to the state. Virginia has so much to offer with its rich history and natural beauty, and it is critical that we capitalize on this to attract new motion picture productions to the state. The legislation I am signing today and increased funding to the Opportunity Fund will help us showcase the Commonwealth to the film industry."
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling noted, "There is no good reason why the film industry cannot be big business in Virginia. As we've seen in the past, the return on investment for these projects is significant. However, to win in this very competitive market place we have to give our film professionals the tools they need to recruit these projects to our state. This legislation is an important first step in doing that. With a little effort, we can establish Virginia as one of the best locations on the East Coast to produce everything from full length motion pictures to TV commercials and everything in between."
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng stated, "Virginia's media production industry is an important part of this administration's strategy for economic growth and job creation for the Commonwealth. This legislation will enable Virginia to be more competitive with the states offering significant incentives to recruit motion picture production."
Tim Reid commented, "New Millennium Studios is proud to be a part of the film industry in a state that has such exceptional film locations, experienced crew, and high-tech production facilities. This tax credit legislation is a momentous step towards giving the state the kind of strong and vibrant media industry it deserves."
Under the legislation, qualified companies producing film, television, documentaries or interactive digital media can apply to receive tax credits based on money spent in Virginia on labor, goods and services. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar legislation with a goal of bringing new business, jobs and economic benefits to their jurisdictions. Virginia's new tax credit legislation will take effect in January of 2011.
The production of filmed entertainment has been an important part of Virginia's economy, responsible for economic impact of more than $4 billion since 1980. In 2008, the industry employed 4,000 Virginians with a total economic impact of $378 million. Notable films made in Virginia include: Dirty Dancing; John Adams; What About Bob; Dave; and GI Jane.