Attracting movie productions to South Mississippi

Attracting movie productions to South Mississippi

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - In May of last year, Mississippi Gulf Coast Studios went to Harrison County and struck a deal to lease the skate park on DeBuys Road in the hopes of turning it into a sound stage to be used by the film industry.

At the time, the movie "Category 5" did build sets and use the building. The county and the Biloxi School District signed a 4 year deal and have been collecting money.

"The agreement is they'll pay $5,000 a month if they have movie activity in there. If they don't, they pay $1,000 a month. That's divided between the county and the Biloxi School District," said County Attorney Tim Holleman.

While the building has been used for only two months so far, the county is saving money on the cost of running the skate park.

"The building was costing the county $25,000 a year in utility costs. They're paying that so taxpayers are saving money," according to Holleman.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Studios was expecting much more activity but recognizes the fact that it's in a competitive game with other states to lure movie makers to the coast.

"It's been fluctuating with the different tax incentives in different states. So we're getting direct competition from other states," said Paula Lindsay with MGCS.

The lack of production has been frustrating but Mississippi Gulf Coast Studios sees some light at the end of the tunnel.

"We're in negotiations to bring a TV series here. If that happens, that's 2 or 3 years of production on the gulf coast," Lindsay said

Meanwhile, Harrison County will continue to collect rent and give the production company time to grow.

"As long as they're meeting their obligation I don't think anyone wants to play hardball with them. They're doing their best. It's just an industry that is growing in Mississippi," Holleman said.

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