Governor Susana Martinez announced the formation of a pilot program to put military veterans to work on movie and TV productions in New Mexico. The veterans movie production pilot program is a multi-state agency partnership which aims to increase the hiring and training of military veterans for productions by movie studios and television production companies here in New Mexico.
Governor Martinez announced the new program -- Operation: Soundstage -- this afternoon before a crowd of veterans and National Guard members at the New Mexico National Guard Armory in Albuquerque.
"Movie and television productions offer job opportunities that are great matches for the skill sets our veterans learn through their service in the military," said the Governor. "As a result of their military training, veterans can lead or take orders--and know the value of the teamwork required by movie makers on any given project."
Governor Martinez explained the program is the result of a joint effort by the New Mexico Film Office, the New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services and the New Mexico Workforce Solutions. The program will look to partner with movie and television production companies.The New Mexico Film Office, through the Jobs Training Initiative Program, currently finances training that helps New Mexico crew members advance their education and become qualified for new crew jobs. These funds are only available for a limited number of positions for each production.
Martinez says "Operation: Soundstage" will add an additional position on each production to be filled specifically by a New Mexico veteran.
"Operation: Soundstage" will also help ensure that veterans who are eligible for the G.I. Bill will be able to access film-career development programs offered at several New Mexico colleges.
Military veterans provide an excellent pool of skilled and talented professionals who would be ideal to fill ―off-camera‖ job openings such as carpenters, electricians, editors, technicians, production assistants, makeup artists, caterers, drivers and dozens of other positions typically needed for television and movie projects.
Today's announcement comes on the heels of the latest data released by the U.S. Department of Labor which shows the national unemployment rate of veterans between the ages of 18-24 at a startling 20.5%--compared to the overall June national unemployment rate of 7.6%.
Governor Martinez also pointed out the financial incentives available to any employer who hires unemployed veterans:
· A $2,400 federal business tax credit for employers hiring veterans who've been unemployed for at least four weeks.
· $5,600 for veterans who are unemployed at least six months.
· Up to a $9,600 credit for certain service-connected disabled veteran
· $2,400 for each hiring of a veteran who receives Supplemental Food Assistance
· The Governor also mentioned the state law she signed last year which gives up to a
$1,000 state business tax credit for each hiring of a recently-returned veteran.
"Veterans make a great fit for production companies working here in New Mexico," said Governor Martinez. "Veterans have sacrificed to serve our country--and have already proved that they have earned the chance to be considered for any job availabilities here at home."
Earlier this year, Governor Martinez introduced the New Mexico Veterans Fire Crew Pilot Program, which led to the direct hiring of 40 military veterans from New Mexico who were trained and later dispatched to fight wildfires in New Mexico. On Friday, Governor Martinez will highlight the success of the Veterans Fire Crew Pilot Program during a news conference in Albuquerque. The New Mexico Veterans Movie Production Pilot Program will follow a similar model to recruit and hire qualified veterans.
According to the New Mexico Film Office, more than 100 movies and television shows have been shot in New Mexico.