UPDATE: Click here to read the story I filed for The Times.
Here is the official press release:
LOUISIANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCES NEW ROLES IN ITS ENTERTAINMENT DIVISION
BATON ROUGE, La. -- To integrate development efforts and increase its focus on administering tax credits in film & television, music/sound recording and digital media, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) recently made new staff assignments in its Entertainment Industry Division.
Sherri McConnell, who was recruited by LED in February 2007 to head the division, announced the following changes and promotions:
Alex Schott has accepted the newly created position of interactive digital media director and will oversee development efforts in this emerging sector. The video game market alone is worth $30 billion globally -- larger than both film and music combined. Previously the director of film & television, Schott brings a high level of expertise to administering the sector's tax incentive program and developing relationships with top digital media companies. He will also work closely with industry leaders to recruit skilled workers and guide workforce-training programs.
Promoted to film & television director is Chris Stelly, who has been with LED's entertainment division since 2004. Stelly previously served as an economic development officer, where he assisted with administering Louisiana's innovative tax credit program and providing technical assistance to entertainment prospects for Louisiana. His new assignment includes implementing the film tax incentive program, building the industry's workforce and increasing Louisiana's prominence in the motion picture industry.
Other members of the LED Entertainment Industry Division are: Lynn Ourso, who will continue serving as music industry director, focusing on recruitment and the administration of music tax incentives as well as directing the activities of the Louisiana Music Commission; Patrick Mulhearn, whose role as economic development officer will be expanded to include some of Stelly's former duties, with a focus on film & television development efforts; and Amber Havens, whose role as public information officer will also expand to serve all three entertainment areas.
"Louisiana has an unparalleled opportunity for growth in the entertainment industry. Our focus on administering the tax incentives in all three entertainment areas will continue to draw industry leaders to Louisiana," said LED Secretary Michael J. Olivier. "With these new staff assignments, LED can provide a more integrated approach to matching industry needs with our state's resources."
Since the Louisiana Legislature passed the Motion Picture Incentive Act in 2002, the state's entertainment sector growth has been significant.
A March 2007 report on Louisiana's entertainment industry, Economics Research Associates Report: Trends in Film, Music and Digital Media, shows a sizeable increase in film production, a 23 percent increase in employment and 31 percent higher wages since 2001. The study also revealed Louisiana ranks third in the number of films produced in the United States -- behind only New York and California.
For more information about how LED is working to advance the state's entertainment industry, visit LouisianaForward.com/Entertainment.