Kentucky's growing film industry means sizable economic boon for many parts of the state

10/19/2017 06:05 PM

WILMORE — Kentucky’s growing film production industry is having a positive economic impact in many areas of the state, and indications are that even more films will be shot here in the future.

Members of the Interim Joint Committees on Economic Development and Workforce Investment and Tourism, Small Business and Information Technology heard from officials on Thursday at Asbury University, who talked about the benefits of having professional film productions shot in their communities.

One of the big reasons for the growth is that so many companies besides the traditional big Hollywood studios are making original programming today, including many productions that are streamed online.

Executive Director of the Kentucky Film Association Stephanie Stumbo says that the industry, thanks to a statewide 30-35 percent refundable tax credit approved by the General Assembly in 2015, has grown considerably in the past year.

“From 2009 to 2015, just prior to your changes, we had a total of 11 approved projects filmed,” Stumbo said. “Following the adjustments to the incentive program, in the year 2016 alone, Kentucky had 20 projects complete. That was double what we had done in the previous seven years.”

Stumbo estimates that at the end of this year, 33e productions will be completed, resulting in $86 million in new economic revenue, 1,038 Kentucky jobs and approximately $8.6 million in new tax revenue.

An example of what a film production can do for the economy of an area was last year in Harlan where the film “Above Suspicion” was shot.

Director of Harlan County Tourism Brandon Pennington said the economic impact of that production was huge for the eastern Kentucky community.

“You’ll learn that the film industry really benefits any industry in your community,” Pennington said. “What that funneled down to for our community, what that meant for our community was about a $3 million impact in a three-month time.”

In the south central part of the state, Hart County Judge-Executive Terry Martin talked about establishing the Southern Kentucky Film Commission, which includes Hart, Barren, Warren and Edmonson counties, to give the area a voice in trying to attract more films to the region.

Hart County had an influx of about $500,000 as a result of the Hallmark movie “Strangers in Amish Country,” which was filmed there over a six-week period last fall.

“This helped diversify the economy in our areas from manufacturing into another industry that is new to the state of Kentucky,” Martin said. “As long as people are here, they’re going to spend money, and they spend big money.”

Projections for 2018 show $146 million in potential new economic activity, 1,754 potential Kentucky jobs and $14.6 million in new tax revenue as a result of films being produced in the state.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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