Georgia Dept. Of Economic Development: Screenwriters, Not Economists

Georgia Dept. Of Economic Development: Screenwriters, Not Economists


Oh Georgia, sweet Georgia.  The people working in the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDED), frankly, need to quit their day jobs and start writing for “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”.  The folks at the GDED are much better equipped at writing fiction (which is what they currently do) than writing something that resembles factual reality (which they currently do NOT do).  In a recent news release, the GDED claimed film & TV production spending under Georgia’s 30% cash subsidy film incentive netted an economic impact of $3.1 billion in fiscal year 2012:

The Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), announced today that Georgia-lensed productions generated an economic impact of $3.1 billion in the state during FY12 (July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012), a 29% increase from FY11.

Wow!  $3.1 billion!  That sounds too good to be true.  Oh, wait…that’s because it isn’t true.  So, what might be true?  Well, that was buried in the same press release, which noted the actual direct production spend was $879.8 million:

‘The 2012 fiscal year saw record investment in the state by the entertainment industry, with more than $879.8 million in direct spending,’ said GDEcD Commissioner Chris Cummiskey. ‘The film industry’s impact will have a lasting effect on Georgia’s economy for years to come.’

The fiction writers at the GDED want us to believe that roughly $880 million in direct production spending in Georgia had an economic impact 3.5 times larger than the initial spend??  All in Georgia??  Fucking “Battleship” had a more believable script!  Georgia, give me a break.

First of all, Georgia’s history of misstating the truth about its film industry has been well documented on this site, including input form unpaid, unbiased third party economists (see HERE ,HERE and HERE).  In 2010, even the discredited MNP Report commissioned by the MPAA said the direct spending by the film industry under the incentive was $617.1 million and had an economic output just 1.89 times larger at $1.17 billion that year (2010).  And keep in mind the MNP Report, by Georgia Film Office Director Lee Thomas’ own admission, was commissioned to “save the Georgia film incentive” from being eliminated by state lawmakers.  Translation: the MNP report was commissioned to take ridiculous liberties with the truth to accomplish that goal, which sadly it achieved.

If the MNP Report can be faulted for stretching $617.1 million in direct spending into a $1.17 billion economic impact, what does that say about the GDED–without any report or methodology backing them up–turning $880 million into $3.1 billion??  Hell, maybe they even wrote “Battleship”.  But maybe you live in Georgia and are still not convinced I should be so skeptical….

In 2011, a group of very qualified economists at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) issued a report on the economic impact of the California film incentive (a modest program that covers a fraction of productions shot in the state).  The LAEDC, which has a long history of unparalleled expertise at studying the economic impact of film & TV production, said the direct production spending for 2009-2011 was $1.53 billion (compared to only $880 million in GA), which had a total economic output of $3.8 billion (compared to $3.1 billion in GA):

What does this mean?  Well, because the LAEDC is composed of a group of qualified, educated experts with integrity, they applied a responsible & accurate multiplier that converted the direct spend ($1.53 billion) into an output roughly 2.5 times greater at ($3.8 billion).  As the LAEDC pointed out, this large economic impact was only achieved because roughly 60% of the US film & TV industry is clustered in California, where it has established a home for over 100 years and roughly 93-cents of every dollar spent is sourced wholly within the state.

Even with Georgia’s record breaking year in FY2012, they had an infinitesimal fraction of what California has (roughly $30 billion annually) and the Georgia film industry is only in its nascent years of development.  I would be shocked if even 40-cents spent on production in Georgia was wholly sourced in the state (compared to California at 93-cents).  Nevertheless, the (lousy) fiction writers at the GDED claim the $880 million in direct production spending had an economic output 3.5 times greater (at $3.1 billion).

If it looks like bullshit and smells like bullshit….then it must come from Georgia’s GDED.  It makes me wonder if they also wrote Paul Ryan’s speech at the GOP convention.

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