“Georgia is one of the fastest growing entertainment production centers in the U.S.,” Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development Chris Carr said at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s “First Monday Breakfast” at the Cobb Galleria Centre. His comments, though not dominated by “movie talk,” coincidentally came on the morning after the Oscars were handed out in Hollywood. “Through a combination of pro-business legislation, a steady stream of new workforce opportunities, long-term infrastructure growth, pro-active communities and diverse landscapes — the economic impact of this industry in 2013 was more than $4 billion in Georgia.”
Dozens of films and TV episodes have filmed in Cobb in recent decades, but such activity has recently hit new heights, he said. Recent hit films made all or in part of Cobb include:
- “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which last week became the 10th highest-grossing film of all time at the domestic box office;
- “Barely Lethal,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Alba;
- “Dumb and Dumber To,” starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, which was filmed in and around the Marietta Square;
- The remake of ’80s hit “Footloose;” and
- “The Walking Dead.”
Cobb was one of the first communities in Georgia to be designated as Camera Ready by the Georgia Film Office. The program is a special designation given to counties interested in attracting such productions and involves the county designating a point person who can assist film and TV production companies.
GEORGIA’S “ARTS” SECTOR generates a whopping $29 billion in annual business revenue and employs 4.7 percent of the state’s workforce, Carr said.
“And it’s a catalyst for community revitalization, boosts local economies, fuels arts education and spurs innovation,” he added. “Cobb County is home to more than 2,500 arts-related businesses employing nearly 8,000 people,” according to Carr, “numbers much bigger than most county residents realize.”
CARR also stressed the importance of tourism to the local and state economy. It has a $51 billion impact statewide and employs more than 400,000 people, or 10 percent of the workforce.
Cobb’s tourist attractions are well-known: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Six Flags, Whitewater, Marietta Square and more. And they generated more than $1.36 billion in direct tourism spending, created more than $55 million in state tax revenue and supported nearly 16,000 jobs in 2012, Carr said.
“Did you know that in 2012, every Cobb County household received $359.74 in tax relief as a result of the taxes generated by tourism economic activity? That’s very impressive,” Carr added.
ALL TOLD, there have been 36 major projects worth an aggregate of more than $211 million that have created more than 4,273 jobs in Cobb since Gov. Nathan Deal took office in January 2011, Carr said.
Highlights have been The Home Depot’s call center (700 jobs); Infosys BPO Limited (software/technology), which created 200 jobs; Osmotica Pharmaceutical (156 jobs); and Talenti Gelato (food processing), 100 jobs.
Carr also noted companies in 147 of Georgia’s 159 counties are involved in international trade, either via importing and/or exporting.
“We’ll go everywhere and anywhere to bring jobs and investment opportunities to Georgia,” Carr concluded.
THE CRIMINAL DEFENSE SECTION of the Cobb Bar Association is seeking nominations from the bar and community for the Jimmy D. Berry Champion of Justice Award. Berry, one of Cobb’s foremost criminal defense/death penalty attorneys, was a recipient of the inaugural award in his honor at last year’s Law Day celebration.
“Many bar associations around the country have just such an award for a lawyer who takes the often unpopular position of standing up for someone accused of a crime akin to Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’” Criminal Defense Section President Kim Keheley Frye told Around Town. “The importance of the award is that the fight for justice of one accused is a fight for justice for all.”
Nominations can be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, reports Frye.
PEOPLE: This month’s seventh annual Georgia Symphony Orchestra Celebrity Luncheon will feature 21 local notables and William Fred Scott as keynote speaker. Scott was artistic director of The Atlanta Opera for 20 years and presently is director of choral music at The Westminster Schools.
Other notables that day will include:
- Clemens Bak, founder of Gallery 4463 in Acworth and founder of the Acworth Cultural Arts Center Inc.
- Katie Beasley, “Good Day Atlanta” transportation reporter for FOX 5 Atlanta.
- Susan Easton Burns, who has been awarded the commission to paint the official Kentucky Derby Art for Churchill Downs Inc., for 2014.
- Ron Carter, theater-organ concert and silent film accompanist who performs around the Southeast, including at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre and the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.
- David DuBose, arts director for the Marietta School system, manager of the new Marietta Performing Arts Center at Marietta High School and the Marietta City Schools’ “Teacher of the Year” for 2012-13.
- Dale Ellis, retired National Basketball Association star and graduate of Marietta High School.
- Doug Frey, old-home-restorer and award-winning author of “Marietta, the Gem city of Georgia: A Celebration of its Homes — A Portrait of its People.”
- Julian Gray, curator of the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, who oversaw the museum’s move into its current space in 2009.
- Lauretta Hannon, author of “The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life,” Lifestyle columnist for the MDJ and commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
- Reynold Jennings, president and CEO of WellStar Health System.
- Joe Kirby, editorial page editor of the MDJ and author of four books on local history.
- Christiane Lauterbach, restaurant reviewer for Atlanta magazine and author of The Atlanta Restaurant Guide.
- Harry Lembeck, author of a forthcoming book on one of the most controversial events of Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency. (BTW, the producers of the PBS documentary “Slavery by Another Name,” based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of that name, have asked Lembeck to be a participating historian.)
- Dr. Sam Matthews, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Marietta and regular columnist for The Wesleyan Christian Advocate newspaper.
- Van Pearlberg, senior assistant attorney general, former senior assistant Cobb D.A., former Marietta Councilman and amateur actor.
- Kevin Rathbun, Atlanta restaurateur who’s namesake eatery, Rathbun’s, was voted by Esquire magazine as one of the “Top New Restaurants in the Country.”
- Derek Schiller, executive VP of sales and marketing for the Atlanta Braves.
- Dr. Wanda Yang Temp, international opera singer and recitalist.
- Lee Walburn, columnist for The Rome News-Tribune and former editor-in-chief of Atlanta magazine.
- Kathy Young, immediate past president of the 80-member advisory board for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and chair of the capital campaign for the Children’s Garden to be on the campus of the State Botanical Garden in Athens.
The luncheon will be from noon to 3 p.m. March 22 at the Marietta Country Club and is being chaired by Eric Bowles. For ticket info, go to GeorgiaSymphony.org or call (404) 625-6252.
THE KENNESAW MUSEUM FOUNDATION will host “An Evening with the General” in honor of Fred Bentley Sr. from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. Tickets are $75 per person and attendees will have an opportunity to board “The General,” the central player in the famed Great Locomotive Chase during the Civil War.