Film Making Incentive Approved Locally

The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors has approved an extra tax incentive for film and production companies.

Given the success of last year's hit movie, 'The Help',which was the highest-grossing film ever shot in Mississippi, locals are optimistic that this new incentive could lead to bigger things.

During its production, 'The Help', had a $13 million impact on the Mississippi city of Greenwood, where filming took place.

Lauderdale County Tourism executive director, Suzy Johnson, said she's hopeful that something like that can also happen here.

The board of supervisors recently passed a recommendation from the local tourism commission which offers a 1% rebate to any film and/or production company that films within Lauderdale County or surrounding areas and uses the city of Meridian as the 'hub' for film activity.

"It just makes us more attractive to come here and film here," said Suzy Johnson, Lauderdale County Tourism executive director.

According to Johnson, this is the first commission in the state to offer this type local rebate. She said this would initially cut into the commission's profit, but would ultimately pay it back and then some.

"Even a small independent film can have anywhere from a $1 million to $5 million impact on us locally," Johnson said. "At this time when the economy is so tight and people are struggling, I just feel like that's kind of like a gift that just falls in your hands for a short time period."

Just last legislative session, Mississippi lawmakers approved a special incentive to attract filmmakers to the Magnolia State. Following approval of the measure, Johnson says this area is already showing promise.

"I have had several inquiries on things for us," said Johnson.

Although this area is being considered for some projects, Johnson says nothing is concrete yet and it's still too early to say when or if any filming will take place here.

The agreement provides a one percent rebate of the 2.5 percent special tourism tax to film and/or production companies that meet the requirements. It also requires the company to use a minimum of 1,000 or more room nights at local hotels.

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