PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We’re so used to movie and TV companies in Pittsburgh with their Hollywood celebrities that it’s easy to think this could go on forever.
Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh have started to lose out to others.
“They go to Atlanta. They go to New Orleans. But they would rather be in Pittsburgh,” says Chris Breakwell, owner of 31st Street Studios.
So why not come here?
Turns out other states now offer better tax incentives. Pennsylvania’s $60 million tax credit has been frozen for years, and Gov. Tom Wolf didn’t unfreeze it.
“What $60 million does is keep us in the game. It doesn’t ever let us get ahead. It’s limiting the job growth. It’s limiting the opportunities,” says Dawn Keezer, the director of the Pittsburgh Film Office.
Here’s another problem.
At $60 million, the tax credit runs out in the first six months of the fiscal year, forcing Hollywood to go elsewhere during the rest of the year.
Right now, the 31st Street Studios could be filled with a hundred local workers, but look at it. It’s empty. And that’s because, says the studio owner, Pennsylvania is not competing with other states when it comes to the film tax credit.
“We’ve been empty for a few months just because we’ve run out of tax credits — not because people don’t want to come but because we’ve run out of tax credits,” says Breakwell.
That company has been home to big films like “The Dark Knight Rises” and Will Smith’s soon-to-be-released “Concussion.”
To keep films like this here, the Pittsburgh Film Office says Pennsylvania must join other states that have uncapped the tax credit.
“Uncapping would make us very, very competitive with Louisiana, with Atlanta, Georgia,” says Russ Streiner, chair of the Pittsburgh Film Office, on an upcoming edition of “The Sunday Business Page.”
A bi-partisan group of state senators is pushing just that.
Streiner, who produced the iconic classic, “Night of the Living Dead,” says of the $60 million tax credit, “at the very, very least, to remain competitive, it’s got to at least double.”
The legislature has until June 30 to address the issue.