BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A new film and television production facility, opening next year in the Algiers area of New Orleans, will become the first business to take advantage of the state's Qualified Entertainment Company payroll tax incentives, according to Louisiana Economic Development.
Construction on the first three studio buildings of Deep South Studios is expected to be finished in early 2018, for a total of 35,500 square feet of production and support space. When all construction phases are complete, Deep South Studios will consist of 11 buildings spanning 262,000 square feet, with a capital investment of $63.5 million.
The QEC program rewards investment in permanent quality jobs held by Louisiana residents. The program only applies to businesses that are "engaged in the development or distribution of audio, visual or audio-visual entertainment products for public consumption, and be approved by the LED Secretary."
By creating and maintaining a minimum of five new jobs, each QEC may be eligible for the payroll tax credit for five years, with an option to renew for five additional years. The state also has a similar incentive program for music businesses called the Qualified Music Company program.
Companies that apply for the QEC program may qualify for up to $1 million in payroll credits per year. Businesses that do qualify for the program are eligible for a 15 percent payroll tax credit for jobs that pay $45,000 to $66,000 a year and a 20 percent payroll tax credit for new jobs paying more than $66,000 a year.
"In 2016, I tasked our Louisiana Economic Development agency with finding solutions to make our entertainment programs more sustainable, with more statewide impact," Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement about Deep South Studios. "The QEC model is an effective new tool for helping companies grow permanent entertainment employment in Louisiana. We're pleased that Deep South Studios is putting down permanent roots here. They are at the vanguard of companies that will hire the brightest creative minds in the business to produce a greater economic impact for the entertainment industry in our state."
"Our QEC and QMC incentive encourages film production, digital effects, sound recording, live performance and other entertainment employers like Deep South Studios to hire locally, to invest locally and to build a permanent entertainment industry in Louisiana that complements and builds upon our slate of revolving productions," LED Secretary Don Pierson said. "Through this initiative, we are providing a concrete way for in-state and out-of-state entertainment companies to accelerate their growth through meaningful, long-term investments and partnerships in Louisiana."
Louisiana has hosted over $6 billion in film and television productions since it's film program began in 2002, according to Louisiana Economic Development.