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Expanding NYS Film Tax Credit Essential for Westchester’s Economy

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By John Ravitz

The New York State film and television tax credit that is creating thousands of new jobs in Westchester County must be extended and expanded to keep this thriving and prestigious industry growing within our borders.

In her 2023-24 budget, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposes increasing the annual film and television production tax credit from $420 to $700 million for the next 10 years. The Business Council of Westchester (BCW) strongly supports the governor for the simple reason that the tax credit has already been enormously beneficial in fostering the film sector in the county and is essential in seeing the trend continue.

In fact, New York’s and Westchester’s success in attracting film and TV production companies has not gone unnoticed. Other states, including New Jersey, are now offering aggressive incentive packages to steer filmmakers their way. And while New York has unique advantages, if the financial disparity grows too great, the production companies will go elsewhere.

To put the significance of this emerging sector in perspective, recently released data from the Westchester County Office of Tourism and Film shows that media production in 2021 generated $1.1 billion in sales, up from $752 million in 2020, and supported 3,784 production and service-related jobs.

Local governments also benefitted by collecting over $5 million in sales and hotel occupancy taxes in 2021, and over $2.4 million in film permit and property rental fees.

Currently, the film tax credit spotlight shines on Yonkers, which has earned a new moniker: “Hollywood on the Hudson.” Last year, Great Point Studios opened Lionsgate Studios in the heart of the city’s downtown, the first element in what will be the largest film and television production facility in the Northeast.

Great Point Studios’ $500-million-plus plan envisions two additional campuses in southwest and northwest Yonkers that will be designed to satisfy the demand for large studio space in the New York City area. These studios – just 10 miles from midtown Manhattan – will each feature state-of-the-art film stages, post-production facilities, screening rooms and office and support space.

And Great Point’s commitment to local residents extends beyond its soundstages. In partnership with the Yonkers Public Schools, the company will open a new media arts high school that will allow some of our county’s most disadvantaged children to learn skills that will enable them to work in six-figure film-production jobs straight out of high school.

Whether we use economic impact, tax and permit revenues or workforce development as yardsticks to measure success, New York’s investment in film and television production industry has already delivered on all counts for the people of Westchester County.

We cannot overstate the economic importance of this burgeoning industry to our county. We all have front row seats to watch the exciting transformation this industry is activating. The BCW calls on our state legislative delegation to support Gov. Hochul’s proposal to increase the tax credits for film and television productions. This is one show that must go on.

John Ravitz is the executive vice president of the Business Council of Westchester.

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