Georgia, through a combination of generous tax breaks and an impressive infrastructure, has spent the past 12 years transforming itself into the Hollywood of the South.
The numbers tell the remarkable story of how the state has become a vital outpost for movies and television. The entertainment industry has grown to a $9.5 billion business in Georgia, with 34 major film productions and 33 indies shot in the state in the 2017-18 fiscal year, up from three features and eight indies in fiscal year 2008-09, when the tax incentives for productions were introduced. Now after Joe Biden collected the state’s 16 electoral votes, besting Donald Trump by 12,670 votes and becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Georgia since 1992, the question is, how has the surging entertainment business played a role in the state going blue?
“I do not think it’s possible for the state to have flipped in the last cycle if you don’t highlight the importance of the entertainment industry in the city,” says Ryan Wilson, CEO of the Gathering Spot, a club that has become a focal point for progressive politics in Atlanta. But Wilson argues that the key factor is the local hip-hop community, rather than an influx of Hollywood transplants.
“The thing about Atlanta that is special, whether you’re talking about Killer Mike or T.I.; Will Packer or Tyler Perry; LVRN, Dreamville or Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland, they all have really strong Atlanta ties that are authentic,” he says. “I don’t think folks experience it as anything other than homegrown or local people talking about Atlanta.”
Fred Hicks, a Democratic consultant, says several industries have contributed to the shift in the state’s political dynamics. “You have music, you have film and you have tech, combined with a lower cost of living than you’d have in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco; all of these things have made it a destination city for people who think a little differently than other places in the South,” he says. See more at Variety.