Digital Media: A Pathway to Jobs and Investment in Louisiana; What Does Watching a Downloaded DVD Have in Common with Video Conferencing or Completing an Online Ethics Course? They Are All Examples of Digital Media-And the State of Louisiana Is Creating Promising Avenues for Entrepreneurship and Job Growth through Tax Credits, Public-Private Partnerships, and Investments in Infrastructure

By Montoya, Nancy | Partners in Community and Economic Development, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Digital Media: A Pathway to Jobs and Investment in Louisiana; What Does Watching a Downloaded DVD Have in Common with Video Conferencing or Completing an Online Ethics Course? They Are All Examples of Digital Media-And the State of Louisiana Is Creating Promising Avenues for Entrepreneurship and Job Growth through Tax Credits, Public-Private Partnerships, and Investments in Infrastructure


Montoya, Nancy, Partners in Community and Economic Development


In 2005, Louisiana's legislature passed the Digital Interactive Media Act (DIMA) to grow and develop the state's video game industry. A recent study commissioned by the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (1) found that every $1 of tax credit invested in digital media in 2007 reaped $8.69 in direct and indirect economic benefits. Economic Research Associates, experts in the field of digital media, report that the production of a single video game can take from three to five years, creating up to 35 jobs in a small company and 250 jobs in a large company. They estimate that, by 2009, over 250,000 jobs nationally will be supported by digital media applications. The video game industry also brings significant overlap with entertainment and "edutainment" industries: think of SimCity's gaming application to teach students about urban planning. These projects require talent in graphic design, programming, and game design, as well as game testers and sound engineers. The industry also calls for legal expertise, advertising and marketing consultants, and business development managers.

In Louisiana, the digital media industry has enjoyed an annual average growth rate of 9 percent since 2001, compared to 0.4 percent nationwide. On average, digital media companies in Louisiana employ six workers, and in 2007, their paychecks exceeded $50,000. This salary represents a higher-than-usual wage in a state where the median annual household income that year was $42,900. (2)

Turbosquid--a New Orleans-based business that functions as a virtual marketplace for the sale of 3D products--provides an example of how tax incentives can support a new business. Turbosquid boasts the largest library of 3D products for sale in the world, providing not only cost savings for the production of digital media applications but also a venue for artists to sell their products. CEO Matt Wisdom says, "The [digital media] tax credits will enable us to expand our efforts in new markets that we wouldn't have attempted otherwise, such as expand hours or add new positions."

Public-Private Partnerships Complement Tax Credits

While the strategic use of tax credits plays an important role in any state's economic development tool kit, a well-trained workforce and appropriate physical infrastructure are also critical. Louisiana has engaged the university, public, and private sectors to supply these elements. Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge recently sealed an agreement with EA Sports, a leading producer of sports video games, to develop a new testing facility for video gaming. GNO Inc., the economic development organization for the 12-parish region that includes New Orleans and surrounding areas, is working with local educators and workforce developers to create an education and training curriculum at Delgado Community College and Loyola University that will prepare students for careers in digital media.

In Shreveport, a $300 million redevelopment of the Municipal Auditorium will include a $15 million Creative Center for Digital Media. Already known as a popular set location for movies, the area is expanding its role by leveraging higher education and business venture opportunities in music, animation, filmmaking, and biological research database development.

State Investment in Infrastructure Supports Cutting Edge Work

These public/private partnerships have benefited greatly from the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI) started by former Governor Blanco's administration. LONI is a 10-year, $40 million investment in the state's major universities, providing ultra high-speed Internet access for participating research institutions. …

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Digital Media: A Pathway to Jobs and Investment in Louisiana; What Does Watching a Downloaded DVD Have in Common with Video Conferencing or Completing an Online Ethics Course? They Are All Examples of Digital Media-And the State of Louisiana Is Creating Promising Avenues for Entrepreneurship and Job Growth through Tax Credits, Public-Private Partnerships, and Investments in Infrastructure
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