Commentary: Florida erred in cutting film incentives

This editorial appeared in The Bradenton Herald.

While Florida lawmakers look everywhere in the state budget for savings, at least one cut is backfiring on our economy.

The Sunshine State's natural beauty and other charms have long drawn Hollywood moviemakers for location shooting. But Florida's incentive program to help attract even more got whacked from $25 million last year to $5 million this fiscal year.

While that looks like a tidy savings, the bottom line is the significant loss that Florida communities will no doubt suffer as studios take their business to states with generous paybacks.

Filming of the dog flick "Marley & Me," the Owen Wilson-Jennifer Aniston hit now in theaters, pumped $10 million into the South Florida economy. Some 1,400 local movie industry workers earned wages and area hotels, restaurants and other businesses raked in money.

That's just one film.

While Manatee and Sarasota have not been a Hollywood hotbed, seven top film location managers scouted out potential sites here over two days in October. They were brought here by the Sarasota Film Commission, itself a great idea.

But will any return with cameras and cast?

Or will they now head to the friendlier confines of states with hefty incentive programs?

To read the complete editorial, visit The Bradenton Herald.