Promoting Film and Media to Enhance State Economic Development

Film and media arts can play a key role in state economic development. As economic impact studies continue to demonstrate the ability of the film industry to create high-paying jobs, stimulate tourism, engage the community and boost out-of-state spending, many states have recognized the value of investing in this growing industry.


Thriving film, television, and related media arts industries offer states and localities in the United States not only cultural benefits but also significant economic benefits and opportunities. According to an economic impact report from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), more than 1.3 million Americans were employed by the motion picture industry in 2005 and the total payroll that year exceeded $30 billion. The industry spent an additional $30 billion in direct payments for goods and services provided by U.S. businesses in 2005. Thus, direct economic benefits of filmmaking in the United States exceeded $60 million in just one year.

The attraction and support of film, television, and related media arts is now part of many states’ economic development strategies. Studies have shown that the motion picture industry benefits state and local economies by:

  • Attracting out-of-state investments;
  • Creating high-paying jobs;
  • Contributing to the economic and civic vitality of communities; and
  • Stimulating cultural tourism.

Today, states compete to attract film productions and reap economic rewards. Strong production workforces around the globe have enticed many American productions to locate in other countries, taking millions of dollars in payroll and expenditures on goods and services out of the United States—a phenomenon called “runaway production.”

To capture these dollars, states are adopting strategies to make it easy to create, produce, and distribute film and other media productions from start to finish. State strategies that have proved successful include the following:

  • Offer financial incentives to attract film industry activity, such as tax credits on in-state expenditures;
  • Support the development of a state workforce with the skills to contribute to film activity through university-based and other training programs;
  • Market the state to the film industry through state film office Web sites and other means;
  • Facilitate the film production process in the state by creating production guides or providing scouting programs and
  • Cultivate local film activity and audiences by encouraging homegrown filmmaking and supporting film festivals and other events that engage the community.