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Commission funds incentive for filmmakers in Superior

Policy for spending $20,000 in room tax revenue still has to be established before money is spent.

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Government Center in Superior, Wisconsin. Jed Carlson / 2019 file / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR— The city's tourism development commission allocated $20,000 for an incentive for filmmakers to come to Superior.

Commissioner JoAnn Jardine proposed the incentive Thursday, April 14, to provide a 25% rebate for filmmakers that sleep or seek catering in Superior.

“There’s no risk to us because it doesn’t get spent if they don’t spend any money,” Jardine said.

She said a $20,000 fund would guarantee $80,000 spent in Superior for food and lodging.Once filming has wrapped up, Jardine said the filmmaker would put together their receipts, and the commission would reimburse up to 25% of catering and lodging costs.

“I’ve had an opportunity to look at film incentives and they’re almost always funded using tourism dollars,” said Mayor Jim Paine.

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While there is work to be done in developing the policy to expend the money, Paine said it would be a legitimate use of the room tax the commission oversees.

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Pattie Soliday questioned the potential for the commission to subsidize long-term stays. Stays over 30 days generate no room tax.

Commissioner Bruce Barron, who represents the lodging industry, said he supports the idea.

“One can spend all sorts of money on marketing, one could spend all sorts of money on digital marketing and ads with the intent of putting heads in beds and selling rooms,” Barron said. “Nothing could be more direct than what this is in my opinion.”

However, he said Soliday raised valid issues and one of the caveats of the policy should be that the stays are shorter than 30 days.

“If you’re not going to get revenue, why should you spend?” Barron asked. “I like the idea. I think it’s a very interesting idea. I know it’s done in other places, and it’s as direct of a program as you could possibly come up with.”

The commission earmarked $20,000 from its reserve fund with the caveat that the policy for spending the money be considered later.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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