Miami Entertainment Complex Advocates Say $11M Studio Will Revitalize Area
Cooney said that Florida should challenge entertainment powerhouse states like California and New York for work. He feels that the MEC is a powerful push in that direction.
"Us coming in helps lead them into an infrastructure that can support film and television," Cooney said. "We think a lot of television should come to Florida and Miami because of the appeal of the city. The crews here are quite good, you have a great airport, great hotels, and that's really all you need to satisfy a producer today."
Other panelists included Sam Tedesco, a longtime location manager for wide release films and Eugene Rodriguez, the owner of the Ice Palace studios, located at 59 NW 14th St.
Rodriguez is strongly supportive of the MEC and said that he hoped to help bring the new studio business through his smaller operation.
The largely docile crowd of industry insiders became more animated when the discussion turned to the topic of state-issued tax credits. Some feel that the state needs to better incentivize the entertainment industry in order to draw in more business.
All the folks on the panel indicated that the legislature's future actions in this area could make the difference for the success level of the complex. In 2010, Florida approved $296 million in tax incentives for film productions. But those credits were depleted by 2013. Since then, the lack of incentives has been a deciding factor in the case of at least two recent film productions that were considering Miami as a location, but ultimately lured elsewhere, the Miami Herald reports.
"I can tell you from our standpoint, investing $11.5 million into a brand new facility is a calculated risk in the sense that we are optimistic with what happened this year in the legislature," Bockweg said.
Cooney adamantly believes that the legislature will act in the next session to bail out the Florida film industry. But he also thinks that the complex could succeed without the big money projects that won't come without a more favorable tax regime.
Bockweg said that the facility could survive at least five years without getting the tax incentives passed through the legislature.
"Irrespective of state incentives, this project will still be profitable for the area and will have a good return on investment because of the smaller budget films that don't qualify for tax incentives."