Billionaire mogul Donald Trump wants to build a movie studio in Miami-Dade County. It would be “a spectacular success,” the always outspoken Mr. Trump said in a letter to commissioners delivered recently by former Chairman Joe Martinez before he left office.
You have to love The Donald — actually, he has just as many people who dislike him for his birther politics. But politics aside, what’s the bottom line?
A movie studio holds promise for the county’s economy. Mr. Trump already has invested in South Florida condominiums and recently bought the Doral golf resort with a make-over underway, so he has shown a certain commitment to this area, and a movie studio would fit nicely with the Beacon Council’s One Community One Goal targeted industries approach to attract good-paying jobs to the county.
According to Sandy Lighterman, the film and entertainment industries liaison with the county’s film office, Mr. Trump is looking at several other sites with “serious acreage” — between 400 and 500 acres. He says that Mr. Trump has not approached the county beyond the initial letter delivered by Mr. Martinez.
Lots of issues would have to be settled before a movie studio could be built on the Homestead site. Everything from the proximity of the property to a military base to the protection of an endangered snake species in the area.
However, if those issues can be resolved, a studio would indeed mean jobs and growth and a certain cachet for South Miami-Dade.
So far this November, total entertainment production in Miami-Dade, according to Filmiami, was more than $12 million and included 1,043 local hires. If a major studio, say Sony Pictures or Paramount, were to take their talents to South Florida, the jobs would be recurring for those in the area.
Florida’s tax incentives for movie production companies are a big part of the allure. A production company can earn up to 30 percent in transferrable tax credit, provided it spends at least $625,000 and 60 percent of its cast and crew are Florida residents.
The incentives encourage out-of-towners, but they also stimulate the local economy by requiring hiring our own residents.
And film studios also involve other aspects of production, from lighting to camera companies. This creates a trickle down effect for more local jobs.
Mr. Lighterman points out that in January there will be six TV series shooting in the county. And that does not include the current filming of “Caged,” supposedly a code name for the next Marvel blockbuster, “Iron Man 3.”
The incentives and the economic benefits to both consumers and the county make the movie studio a viable option if the initial hurdles can be overcome.
So let’s see what the Trump empire can do. We can provide the lights and the cameras, we just need to see some action.