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Georgia’s potential troubles as film mecca could bring windfall to P.R.

Puerto Rico’s film industry could stand to win from the controversy stirring in Georgia, where a proposed anti-abortion measure is already causing major Hollywood actors and movie houses to threaten boycotting the state and moving their productions elsewhere if it passes.

Georgia is known for the sweeping incentives it offers the film sector, drawing scores of producers to the state where major blockbusters and popular series have been filmed for decades.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Film Tax Incentive offers participants, among other benefits, a 20% base transferable tax credit; An additional 10% uplift for including an embedded Georgia promotional logo provided by the Georgia Film Office; and, both resident and non-resident workers’ payrolls and FICA, SUI, FUI qualify for the credits, according to the state’s incentives website.

But over the past few days, major studios like Disney and Netflix have vowed to pull their film projects out of Georgia if the bill is passed.

Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy said Puerto Rico has at its reach a number of promotional tools — a new Tax Incentives Code that is expected to be approved at the Legislature in coming months and the Opportunity Zones program — that can be used to land new business prospects.

He said the agency’s promotional arm, Invest Puerto Rico, will have those tools so “when certain things are resolved, it will be in a position to be able to take advantage of the situation, and do what it has to do to bring business to Puerto Rico.”

“Invest Puerto Rico will be looking for new business in strategic areas included in the proposed new Tax Incentives Code, which includes creative industries, the film industry, digital content, entertainment, music, culture,” Laboy said. “Puerto Rico will have the tools to grab new markets and new business resulting from situations, like the one in Georgia.”

The film industry generated some $225 million in economic activity for Puerto Rico in 2017. So far, this fiscal year, the Puerto Rico Film Commission has granted $100 million in tax credits to local and foreign films and series rolled locally — representing twice the amount originally set aside for that purpose, Laboy said.

However, he was unable to provide the exact number of projects that have benefitted from the government’s support.

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