Will Netflix Really Benefit the Local Economy?
This month Netflix announced its planned acquisition of ABQ Studios. Their expected capital investment to purchase and renovate the studios will be at least $30 million. The deal promises to bring $1 billion in production to New Mexico over the next decade, creating up to 1,000 production jobs a year.
Considering the New Mexico economy received $234.2 million in direct spending from the film industry last year, a new $100 million dollar infusion from Netflix would increase sector spending by 40 percent in one fell swoop. The city and state are offering a combined $14.5 million in Local Economic Development Act funds to the deal, in addition to the 30 percent credit from the New Mexico Film Tax Credit.
With so many incentives on offer, can Albuquerque be sure this deal will actually benefit local people and businesses? Will the impact of the Netflix investment be felt across the board? Adding 1,000 jobs a year sounds like a surefire economic boost, but will they hire local?
We asked some of the leaders in the City Alive initiative to weigh in. As an economic impact initiative focused on homegrown job creation and increased racial equity, the City Alive leadership took a hard look at these questions. Here’s what we have to say:
The Job Pipeline
Lisa Abeyta, APPCityLife
When our state first began making concerted efforts to create a film industry here in New Mexico, many jobs requiring experience or expertise were outsourced because we simply didn’t have it here. Over time, we’ve created a much stronger ecosystem with locals who have the experience and expertise - often gained by working on projects here in New Mexico.
Kathie Winograd, Central New Mexico Community College
At CNM we already train more than 200 below-the-line film production technicians every year, so the opportunity for our graduates to gain employment at Netflix will be a fantastic way for them to put their skills to work, gain experience with a top international brand and progress in their career.
Robert Delcampo, University of New Mexico Innovation Academy
Some jobs being outsourced is a possibility—but at least we have Netflix and their employees here in ABQ to be exposed to what we can offer. It is always more efficient to hire someone right under your nose, than to search the globe for someone who might save a few bucks but can’t be supervised regularly.
Rick Rennie, Historic District Improvement Company
The Netflix deal has the potential to create good local jobs and opportunities for existing local homegrown businesses to expand and provide contract services to the production industry. Any company will seek some compensation in the deal if they think they will be forced to hire underqualified workers or submit to heavy regulation in their hiring process. I'm for using our resources to increase the quality of our workforce instead of creating an incentive to compensate for the lack of it.
Kelli Cooper, Albuquerque Community Foundation
Let’s ensure we are educating a continuous pipeline of people trained in the film industry. Let’s also think of radical inclusivity—intentionally reaching out to nontraditional students and entrepreneurs who can benefit from this excellent opportunity.
T.J. Cook, ABQiD
I know many entrepreneurs who want to see more post-production done here. I'd love to see a few of those band together and stand up a business that makes it easy for an outfit like Netflix to not just bring production but related business here as well, creating an integrated ecosystem.
Lisa Adkins, BioScience Center
The economy should see great growth and that benefits all of us. We’ll have more people buying homes, food, services, retail goods etc. All of this means better and more opportunities for local workers and our homegrown businesses.
Agnes Noonan, WESST
New Mexico now has a tremendous opportunity to increase the film sector job capacity for our residents, as well as attracting talented non-resident individuals who want to move to the state.
Tessah Latson, Barelas Economic Opportunity Center at the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce
For us here at the Hispano Chamber, the Netflix deal is an exciting and welcomed addition to the employer and economic vitality of the city. Diversifying our larger employer base is critical. For my department, the Barelas Economic Opportunity Center, and the workforce development and entrepreneurial programming that we offer, I see this as an opportunity to create more of a laser focus. There are some really exciting industry skill up, procurement and contracting opportunities that we anticipate developing over the next years. Our entire team at the Chamber is excited about the many creative and innovative opportunities that we can serve our membership and community in response to the Netflix deal.
Agnes Noonan, WESST
We are very excited about the announcement as we have been working on an internship program for the Comcast Digital Media Studio here at WESST. We have already piloted some programs with CNM and San Juan College and now hope to offer an ongoing studio internship program for students at UNM, CNM and other New Mexico institutions of higher learning as a means to providing those practical learning opportunities.
Although City Alive's focus is on homegrown job creators, quality outside job creators are also welcome. The success of any job creation depends on the availability of a high-quality workforce to support business growth. And that’s exactly what City Alive was created to do. With the participation of CNM, WESST, UNM, Mission Graduate, Encuentro, SVEDC and others, our city can build the infrastructure needed to support a diversified, prosperous job sector and local quality of life for all.
Connect The Dots:
City Alive is focused on homegrown job creation, economic mobility and racial equity. We are a collective impact initiative—meaning we bring together leaders in every sector of government, business, education, nonprofit and philanthropy—to support the people who are growing jobs right here at home. We know that together we can think smarter, remove barriers and create a better environment where entrepreneurs build businesses and succeed. Read more about how we’re doing using the newest impact data here.