Wilmington’s mayor highlights film, tourism impacts in ‘State of the City’

During his annual “State of the City” address Monday, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo highlighted several important features and aspects for the area, one being the importance of film to the area.  In the banner year that was 2012, North Carolina enjoyed $376 million in film-related spending – $240 million of which was spent in Wilmington, which leads the state in film production, said Saffo.  That helped to create hundreds of jobs and gave the city national recognition, he said.  Saffo in his remarks thanked Wilmington Regional Film Commission Director Johnny Griffin and the General Assembly for affording the industry the incentives credited for the filming boom there. Session laws from 2010, for instance, created for production companies 25-percent breaks for expenses on taxable materials and for the compensations of highly paid employees (such as actors who make at least $1 million in the production). The credit’s limit is $20 million for a single film.

Another major industry to protect is tourism, Saffo said in his address. It employs more than 5,000 persons there and bears a $435 million economic impact, he noted. Taxes collected on lodging in the city this year are 10 percent better than the previous year, said the mayor, extending credit to the Wilmington and Beaches CVB for “promoting New Hanover County as one of the great places to vacation and visit.”

Saffo also said the city-built Wilmington Convention Center continues to attract guests, the facility having hosted 113 events last year that drew more than 66,400 people. “These guests bring money into our community,” Saffo said, noting that the convention center has already booked more than 135 events for 2013. (The Wilmington Convention Center is the site of this year’s N.C. Governor’s Conference on Tourism, March 10-12.)