Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blue Sky Studios To Hire 70,0,2722680.story

The computer animation company that produced the feature film "Rio" is getting state help to add 70 jobs and expand office space in Greenwich by 43,000 square feet, the Department of Economic and Community Development announced Tuesday.

Blue Sky Studios will receive a tax credit on 20 percent of spending past the first $3 million in real estate and equipment costs. In addition, the state is loaning the company $3 million at 3 percent interest over 10 years for the project.

The additional space will allow the company to produce movies in less time, and to do more work in house, the economic development department said in a statement announcing the project.

The studio is a repeat customer with the department. Blue Sky received an $8 million low-interest loan in 2009 to lure it from White Plains, N.Y., to Greenwich, though $6 million will be converted into a grant if requirements are met. That year, it a

lso received $3.6 million in infrastructure tax credits and $750,000 in sales tax exemptions.

It received $18 million in film tax credits in 2009 and $15 million in 2010.

The company, which is owned by 20th Century Fox, moved 290 workers to Connecticut two years ago, and added about 110 by this spring. The state said Tuesday that Blue Sky plans to add 70 workers, though the announcement did not say when.

In April, Brian Keane, Blue Sky Studios' chief operating officer, said the company wanted to hire 30 to 40 people, but the head count has not grown in the six months since that announcement.

The average salary is $110,000 a year, and 20 percent of employees live in Connecticut, Keane said.

A state economic development analysis based on the size of the studio to this point said the state is getting a benefit of about a half a million dollars a year, even after the tax giveaways.

"State support for Blue Sky will ensure the industry will grow and other film production companies see Connecticut as a great location and an important partner in their plans," said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, as quoted in the release announcing the new loan and tax break.

"Growing jobs is the number one priority and the film tax credit is one of our best tools that will help us do that," said Catherine Smith, commissioner of the state economic development department. "Digital media is an emerging sector, one that requires smart, innovative workers. This is the workforce Connecticut can provide and production companies know it. That's why they're coming here and it's why they're investing here."

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