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Grow Kansas Film hopes to bring film incentives to sunflower state

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Posted at 6:50 AM, Sep 20, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A group called Grow Kansas Film plans to introduce a bill on the first day of Kansas’ 2023 legislative session to help draw production companies to the state.

The bill highlights filmmaking and other content creation as an economic driver. It asks the state to set aside $12 million for the project.

Most of the money would go to film, video and other digital media production companies in the form of tax breaks.

$1 million would support Kansas-based businesses in the industry.

The bill would also create two grants of $1 million each: one would go to schools teaching Kansans production skills, while the other grant would improve production-related infrastructure within the state

An organizer of Grow Kansas Film said when production companies come to a location for work, they spend money on hotels, restaurants, equipment and hiring local crew members.

“Those are dollars that potentially wouldn’t even exist in the state at all without these incentives,” Max Thomas explained.

Thomas runs Lights On, a Kansas City, Kansas-based company that rents lights, cameras and other production equipment. He admits having more production companies in the state would benefit his business, but also sees a larger benefit.

"I think the net benefit for the community and the state itself would far outweigh my personal interests in the bill passing," Thomas said.

Organizers drafted the bill based on Governor Laura Kelly’s call for a $10 million creative industries tax credit in her 2022 budget proposal. Kelly’s idea did not make the final budget.

After reviewing Kelly’s proposal, a Wichita-based think-tank called Kansas Policy Institute issued a statement calling film incentives a “flop,” arguing the return on investment is not worthwhile.

A proposal to bring film incentives to Missouri failed to get a vote in the state senate during this year’s legislative session.

Kansas City, Missouri, has an incentive program, which it partially credits for attracting Peacock’s new show, called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, to the city.

The Kansas Legislature reconvenes in January.