Missouri has recently dedicated significant efforts to workforce development and training, including financial investments, joining the Workforce Innovation Network, and launching the Job Centers of the Future through Missouri’s Office of Workforce Development. It is essential that Missouri provide job opportunities to fulfill the promise of those efforts and continue to increase the skills of the Missouri workforce. A recent legislative initiative is intended to provide a significant boost to this effort.
The proposed Entertainment Industry Jobs Act (EIJA) will grow the Missouri music and film manufacturing infrastructure while creating new jobs in Missouri that expand the skillset of the Missouri workforce. The EIJA provides incentives for the live event and production industry to come to facilities in Missouri for tour rehearsal and other production services, bringing new money and business into the state to utilize facilities staffed by Missouri workers. Let me say that again, this proposal will bring new money into the state. Missouri is currently receiving virtually no investment in this industry. A key feature of the EIJA is that, unlike other proposals, if no business expenditures are made in Missouri, no incentives are awarded.
The EIJA will encourage substantial investment in music and film manufacturing infrastructure in Missouri. There is a large unmet demand in the entertainment industry for state-of-the-art facilities for tour rehearsals and productions, with existing facilities having waiting lists for multiple years. These existing facilities are few and often outdated. Missouri’s central location and access to interstate and airport transportation make it ideal for sustainable development in music and film manufacturing infrastructure to meet this demand, bringing additional money into the state that would otherwise be spent outside of Missouri. Substantial new facilities are already underway in the St. Louis area to start the process of making Missouri a preferred location.
The benefits of infrastructure investment and job creation in the EIJA are already proven. A few states offer comparable incentive programs, which have shown both a net positive return to the incentives offered and an increased demand for music and film manufacturing infrastructure and related job opportunities in those states, as evidenced by the waiting lists for these facilities. These other states have music and film manufacturing infrastructure developed in rural (such as Rock Lititz in Pennsylvania) as well as suburban and urban settings. The EIJA is necessary to level the playing field with these other states while bringing new money and business into Missouri and providing opportunities for the Missouri workforce across the state.
To ensure those participating in the incentive program make a sufficient investment in Missouri, the EIJA requires sizable minimum expenditures in the state to qualify for the incentives offered through the program. The EIJA does not pick winners or losers in the marketplace: It only requires that minimum expenditures in Missouri be reached. No incentives are provided unless those significant expenditures are made in the state. Under the requirements of EIJA, the expenditures made in Missouri will always far exceed the number of incentives available. As a further protection to Missouri taxpayers, all applications will be reviewed and approved by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
Besides minimum expenditures by entertainment users, the EIJA has other criteria for a facility to qualify as a rehearsal facility under the Act in order to protect Missouri residents and investments. The facilities are required to be substantial, which tends to attract large touring acts with significant amounts of support staff and equipment needs, resulting in large amounts of spending in Missouri, including hotel rooms, equipment rentals, food, car rentals, and fuel for equipment transportation. These types of entertainment users also tend to have new tours and special events, which will necessitate repeat use of rehearsal facilities over the years. The minimum expenditures that production companies will need to meet before they can take advantage of any incentives will also both protect taxpayers and attract quality content creators. In addition to allowing production entirely within the studios, this will also incentivize shows like Ozark, a show set in Missouri that was filmed entirely in Georgia, to move the production to Missouri.
To realize the benefits of Missouri’s investment in workforce development and training, Missouri must provide skilled job opportunities for Missouri residents. The EIJA will help establish a robust music and film manufacturing infrastructure throughout Missouri. This will create critical jobs and skill development opportunities for the Missouri workforce while also bringing significant expenditures to the state that will have a ripple effect on economic activity throughout Missouri. The EIJA is just the latest expression of a long list of Gov. Parson’s and the General Assembly’s dedication to creating a positive business environment in Missouri.
Rep. Bruce DeGroot is a Republican who represents HD 101 in St. Louis County.