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Lights, camera, legislate
Film incentives part of legislative agenda
Published Wednesday, May 21, 2014 1:07 pm
by Ronnie Bryant, Charlotte Regional Partnership

The North Carolina General Assembly’s short session started last week and legislators are discussing a couple of issues that are important to the Partnership.

One issue is the state’s film incentive, which was first signed into law in 2006. Currently, North Carolina offers a 25 percent refundable tax credit of a production’s cost, including films, TV series and commercials. Unless this law is renewed, the tax incentive will expire at year-end. I believe this would negatively impact a thriving regional industry, resulting in a loss of jobs and millions in direct in-state spending. I strongly support renewing the law.

All you have to do is look at the numbers. Film and TV production companies spent more than $250 million in North Carolina in 2013, creating about 4,000 jobs and 25,000 part-time and temporary positions. Moreover, Robert Handfield, an N.C. State University professor, recently did a study that indicates the film industry generated more than $170 million in state and local taxes—while getting $112 million in tax credits—from 2007 to 20012.

Here in Charlotte USA, productions such as Banshee and Homeland have boosted the local economy and put people to work. And these projects don’t just benefit those who are involved directly in TV and film production. Many local businesses profit when productions buy goods and services, including lumber stores, contractors, catering companies, equipment rental companies, hotels and restaurants.

The Charlotte Regional Film Commission is able to recruit a variety of movies, TV shows and commercials thanks in part to the region’s scenic locations, strong crew base and international airport. But the market is extremely competitive, and tax incentives play an increasingly important role in being able to recruit these lucrative projects.

Charlotte USA has a long film and TV tradition, and renewing the state’s 25 percent tax incentive will help grow an already thriving sector and in the process create more jobs and economic opportunities. 

The second General Assembly issue the Partnership is legislation which addresses the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. This is a new public-private partnership designed to handle business recruiting and economic development. Commerce officials have said they expect the bill to pass during the current short legislative session, and that the Raleigh-based nonprofit will be operational by July.

We believe this new centralized state-run partnership will complement our own regional efforts. Over the past 23 years, we’ve developed longstanding relationships with all the counties we represent and understand the unique needs of each one. We also have a strong working relationship with the N.C Department of Commerce, which brings a great deal of value to the economic development process. We look forward to working together as we continue in our mission to recruit companies and further strengthen Charlotte USA’s competitive position in the global marketplace.

Notable news
Charlotte Regional Partnership announces agreement with Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa
The Charlotte Regional Partnership and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to help promote trade, investment and business opportunities between North Carolina and South Africa. The agencies will work together to generate economic development and job creation in each of their respective regions.

The MoU was completed when a group of Charlotte representatives traveled to South Africa in October 2013, according to Ronnie Bryant, CEO of Charlotte Regional Partnership. The Afribiz Foundation led the trip and helped facilitate the MoU.

As a result of the MoU, U.S. and South African firms will develop several energy projects in South Africa and other parts of the African continent. Moreover, this new strategic partnership will help North Carolina firms tap opportunities in other sectors, including infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture, health, mining, oil and gas. The agreement is also expected to help attract South African firms to the area who are looking to expand to the U.S. market.

IDC will make its first visit to Charlotte after the signing of the MoU on June 10-11. Lumkile Mondi, IDC’s chief economist, will participate in a series of business meetings and a public workshop on June 10. He will be joined by Wanda Felton, first vice chair of U.S. EXIM Bank. In 2012, the U.S. EXIM Bank and IDC completed a MoU, which set aside $2 billion for renewable energy projects in South Africa that involved U.S. companies.

Charlotte airport streamlines international passenger Re-entry process 
The Charlotte Douglas International Airport recently unveiled two dozen touchscreen kiosks designed to help international passengers re-enter the county quicker and easier. Rather than talk with a Customs and Border Protection agent, passengers can just swipe their passports at the kiosks and then press a few buttons to answer a series of questions. The kiosks then print receipts, which travelers take to CBP agents, who verify their identity. The new kiosks are expected to significantly reduce entry time at the airport, where up to 2,000 international passengers arrive almost simultaneously during peak hours, often creating a backup. Similar kiosks are in 10 U.S. airports, including Chicago O’Hare, JFK International, Miami and Dallas/Fort Worth airports.

Locations, expansions, contractions
A group of 20 OrthoCarolina physicians has opened the $4.9 million Mallard Creek Surgery Center in Charlotte's University area. The facility will offer outpatient procedures and orthopedic surgical services. That site is also home to OrthoCarolina’s University medical practice. Mallard Creek Surgery Center is one of three physician-owned ambulatory-surgery center demonstration projects included as part of the 2010 N.C. Medical Facilities Plan. The five-year demonstration project is designed to compare cost effectiveness of allowing physician groups to perform surgeries at a physician-owned center versus surgeries performed at hospitals or other outpatient clinics.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based GI Partners is purchasing Peak 10 Inc., a Charlotte data center and cloud infrastructure firm. While the value of the deal has not yet been disclosed, it could eventually double the size of Peak 10, one of Charlotte’s most successful tech companies. In 2010, Peak 10 was sold to New York private-equity fund Welsh, Cason, Anderson & Stowe in a deal that valued the company at more than $400 million. Since then, Peak 10 has increased its revenue by 20 percent. The firm operates 24 data centers in 10 cities in the Southeast and Midwest.  

RSC Chemical Solutions, located in Union County’s Indian Trail, will add 40 employees over the next three years. Company officials say the chemical firm is growing thanks to a new process designed to remove petroleum-based chemicals from its products, such as Gunk and Liquid Wrench. Using water-based alternatives rather than chemicals to make these products is safer for customers and the items are still just as effective, company officials say.

The Portland, Ore.-based NuScale Poweris opening an operations and engineering center in Charlotte, where it will focus on small modular-reactor technology. The company expects to hire about 70 people initially at its SouthPark location and grow from there. Company officials cited the region’s skilled workforce as one of the deciding factors for moving to the area. NuScale was one of the original pioneers of small modular-reactor technology.


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