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Could Florida become the game design hub of the U.S.?

by: Dan -
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I know the headline might seem a bit weird, but if the legislation that was passed in Florida today has any effect, it will allow for Digital Media companies (such as Game development studios) to relocate into the state and receive a 20% tax credit on qualifying production expenses. This is something to keep an eye on, as Michigan passed a large tax credit for the motion picture industry several years ago and has landed several high-profile films in recently that otherwise would have stayed put in California.

While most of the major development studios in the U.S. (and Canada) are all over the place, there does seem to be a higher concentration on the West Coast (California in particular) where costs probably run much higher than Florida, even before the tax credits.

Personally, I would love to see some of the West Coast logjam broken up and more companies move to Florida, as it is a great state to visit and work. It also has a centralized city in Orlando that could easily handle an influx of new jobs and growth with its infrastructure already in place. This might make perfect sense for a company like Disney Interactive Studios to at least open a studio in Orlando, which has an obvious fit and plenty of Disney land to work with.

With the ESA in full support of this move by the Florida legislature, maybe they will finally get off their hands and move E3 out of L.A. and into the Orlando Convention center in a show of support for the state.  What do you say ESA?  E3 2011 in the Sunshine state?  I know I would be there in a heartbeat.
Florida Passes New Digital Media Incentives

ESA Praises Legislation for Encouraging Growth of Computer and Video Game Industry

WASHINGTON, April 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) today commended the Florida Legislature for passing legislation (SB 1752) that will provide economic incentives for digital interactive media productions in the state.

As part of SB 1752, interactive digital media projects will be eligible for a 20% percent tax credit for qualifying production expenses. State Representative Steve Precourt and State Senator Mike Haridopolos spearheaded legislative efforts in support of dramatically improving and expanding the state's current entertainment incentive program to encourage the expansion of interactive digital media and film production in Florida.

"We applaud Representative Precourt and Senator Haridopolos for their leadership and vision in crafting this important legislation. Florida lawmakers are helping to pave the way for exciting new innovations in the entertainment industry," said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA, which represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. "These incentives will help keep Florida competitive in the digital media marketplace, attracting and providing 21st Century jobs in our growing industry and boosting the state's economy."

Florida is among the nation's leaders in providing computer and video game education opportunities for students. The University of Central Florida, St. Petersburg College, and the Art Institute of Tampa, among many others, are training the next generation of computer and video game employees by offering courses and degrees in digital media. This, combined with the interactive digital media incentives, is an important way to create a business climate in the state that enables students to achieve their academic and career ambitions.

The Entertainment Software Association is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers and the Internet. The ESA offers services to interactive entertainment software publishers including a global anti-piracy program, owning the E3 Expo, business and consumer research, federal and state government relations, First Amendment and intellectual property protection efforts. For more information, please visit www.theESA.com.