There's an interesting debate going on about Wyoming's economic development programs, including our own Film Industry Financial Incentive (FIFI). In particular: do these programs create jobs?
A recent study from an organization called "Good Jobs First" ranked Wyoming low in requiring job creation for subsidies, and you can read all the gory details here. That article in turn triggered this counterpoint editorial, and its thesis of Yes, we're getting our money's worth seems like an effective rebuttal. However, there was one quote from this latter article that's especially worthy of scrutiny: "The Film Incentive Program is a revenue and profile building program, not a job creating program. It doesn’t even belong in the consideration of this survey."
It begs the question: What exactly is this film program meant to do? Certainly FIFI acts to attract new business from out of state. It's no secret that this industry revolves around incentives, and FIFI keeps Wyoming in the game, allowing us to stay competitive with places like Montreal and New Mexico. And yes, it certainly counts as "revenue and profile building" when Hollywood comes to town. But when that happens, local jobs are created. They're film industry jobs though, and that means a few weeks or months of highly skilled, well paid positions before the the production wraps. Do those jobs count?
And what about this: most of the companies that have taken advantage of FIFI are based right here in Wyoming. Large productions from California or New York do come to town, but the majority of FIFI dollars have gone to support and encourage our indigenous production companies, and there are quite a few of those. Just because they aren't producing multimillion dollar blockbusters doesn't mean they aren't out there, cranking out extreme sports shows, nature documentaries, and commercials. This program supports those companies. It helps to make those jobs possible.