Save Hollywood East

Check out this blog post by National Committeeman Andrew Barnhill

Thom Tillis doesn’t get it. He led the fight this week against an amendment that would have extended North Carolina’s film incentives—a major support for the economy of the eastern part of our state. He claims to be fighting for jobs, but the dots just don’t connect.

Growing up in Wilmington, home to the largest soundstage east of Los Angeles, the largest special effects water tank in North America, and the hopeful moniker of “Hollywood East,” it is hard to separate jobs from film. The film industry has long been a vital part of Eastern North Carolina’s economy. In the past five years alone, the industry has spent $1.2 billion in North Carolina, most recently including $130 million from Iron Man 3.


The corridor from Raleigh to Wilmington is home to a crew base of over 1,000 with decades of experience—from electricians to special effects technicians, from casting directors to location managers. Many of these skilled workers are under the age of 36; some of them are Young Democrats.


This week, the North Carolina General Assembly, seemed to miss the dollars and cents. On Wednesday, the North Carolina Finance Committee voted 20-16 against an amendment that would have saved the state’s film incentives program by extending it to 2017, past its current sunset slated for the end of this year. With the film incentive on its way out, it is very unlikely that North Carolina will find itself home to future films and television shows.


The film industry has also been a vital force in bringing thousands of young people to relocate to Charlotte and the North Carolina coast each year. If we stand up for anything as Young Democrats, we need to stand up for the economic support of our young people.


As much concern as this Wilmingtonian has for the film incentive, the vote yesterday sheds light on a bigger concern. North Carolina politics has long been a place home to compromise—home to the difficult, yet important conversations where we all shared and gave a little in order to reach the best outcome for our communities. This short session in the General Assembly has proven that we continue to take forceful steps away from that reputation.


Young Democrats have a responsibility to change the conversation—to model the sort of thoughtful pragmatism in our lives that long found its way into our chambers and Governor’s Mansion. Compromise is always worth the challenge, and the jobs of our neighbors are always worth the fight.  Join the effort and help me save Hollywood East, no matter how long it takes.