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Expanded Tax Credit Could Juice Illinois’ Growing Film Industry

Demand for studio space in Illinois could be set for a boost with the passage of a beefed-up film production tax credit over the weekend.


The Illinois General Assembly on Saturday passed an expansion of the state’s film production tax credit that extends the existing 30% tax credit to a limited number of nonresident wages. The measure applies to directors, writers, directors of photography, production designers, actors and others, with certain caps depending on the dollar figure of the production. The legislation also creates an industry-funded workforce development program for film training, with an emphasis on jobs for women and minorities.

“This is a big win for our industry and just the next step in the journey to take Illinois production to the next level,” Illinois Production Alliance Executive Director Christine Dudley said of the initiative, which takes effect July 1.    

IPA and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, which backed the expansion, hope it will help the state compete in the race for film production, with the jobs and economic development that come with it. California and New York are the top states for filming, ahead of third-ranked Georgia, which has used generous tax credits to spur a major studio production industry

Illinois is currently ranked seventh, behind New Mexico and New Jersey, and is the home of television shows like Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med and Showtime’s Work In Progress. As of late last year, 15 television productions were underway in Chicago, as well as a number of films.

According to the Motion Picture Association, the Illinois film industry employs nearly 28,000 people and pays about $2B in annual wages. Chicago boasts the largest studio space in North America, Cinespace, with more studios on the way, according to Mark Kelly, the city’s former commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

“This emerging film scene is important not just economically but think of it sort of like the Michael Jordan effect,” Kelly told Block Club Chicago. “Think of how this one individual sort of remade Chicago’s image in the world. Well, filming does that, too. We see LA and New York through the films that come from there, and we in Chicago should emerge as one of the top film producing locations in this country.”

For more information on Chicago’s burgeoning film industry, check out Bisnow’s Chicago Entertainment Real Estate event June 23.