SHREVEPORT, La. -- Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Moonbot Studios, Twin Engine Labs and Embera NeuroTherapeutics executives to sign laws -- included in the Governor's 2011 Legislative Package -- that enhance Louisiana's Digital Interactive Media & Software tax credit, and enhance and extend the Technology Commercialization & Jobs tax credit.
"The Digital Media Tax Credit and Technology Commercialization Tax Credit programs illustrate how powerful incentives can be in generating new investment and job opportunities our Louisiana businesses and people," said Gov. Jindal. "These programs have the potential to expand reach in innovative fields that have already rapidly grown in just the past couple of years. These tax incentives will help create job opportunities for our children right here in Louisiana so they don't have to leave home to pursue their dreams." "Louisiana's Digital Media Tax Credit is a strong asset to growing the industry and making the state a global competitor in video game development," said Craig Hagen, senior director of Government Affairs for Electronic Arts Inc. (EA). "We look forward to working with Louisianans in this exciting endeavor."
Senate Bill 123, authored by Sen. Daniel Martiny of Metairie, La., enhances the Digital Media Incentive by offering a refundable, rather than a transferable credit. The Digital Media tax credit program offers tax credits of 25 percent on qualified interactive software production in entertainment, healthcare, engineering and other sectors. Payroll expenses for Louisiana residents engaged in that work can be eligible for a 35 percent credit. The enhancements in this bill mean that participating companies will receive a significantly larger benefit from the program even though the cost to the state for a given project won't change. State Rep. Cameron Henry of New Orleans also was an instrumental backer of the digital media legislation.
Senate Bill 134, authored by Sen. Dan Claitor of Baton Rouge, La., extends the Technology Commercialization tax credit another six years through 2017. The Technology Commercialization program offers tax credits of 40 percent on up to $250,000 a year in research tied to Louisiana higher education campuses. Those research companies may apply for a 6 percent payroll rebate on qualified jobs. Sen. Steve Carter of Baton Rouge also was an instrumental backer of the technology commercialization legislation.
Sen. Martiny said, "Because of several incentives we worked to pass over the years, Louisiana has seen a lot of economic success with so many movies coming here for filming and production. We've also seen digital media beginning to play a bigger role in the entertainment industry -- and that's why I was proud to work with Gov. Jindal in enhancing our digital media incentives. With this incentive, we'll attract even more digital media folks to Louisiana while also keeping companies here, which will provide our graduates with more opportunities to find a good job in the state."
Sen. Claitor said, "For Louisiana to compete with the rest of the nation and attract the sort of visionaries and entrepreneurs that enhance economies, we need to provide the incentives necessary for our businesses to prosper. By extending the Technology Commercialization credit, we're getting technology out of the classroom and into commerce. In doing so, all of Louisiana wins."
Rep. Carter said, "Currently, Louisiana is undergoing a transformation as small, technology-focused businesses enter into our communities to pursue their goals. These businesses attract a lot of driven and intelligent young people -- which is what our state needs to develop and flourish -- and with these incentives we're positioning Louisiana to thrive in this modern economy."
Rep. Henry said, "These tax credits target quality companies that create and grow good paying and innovative jobs, which provide our college graduates with the sort of careers they're pursuing. I was proud to work with Gov. Jindal and Louisiana Economic Development in crafting and passing business incentives like these, so we can grow and enhance our state's economy."
The Digital Media tax credit program has resulted in the attraction of major technology companies to Louisiana, such as EA, which are creating more than 1,000 new jobs in Louisiana. Additionally, the program has helped to cultivate younger, high-growth companies.
Taking advantage of Digital Media tax credits and support from LED FastStart®, Shreveport-based companies Twin Engine Labs and Moonbot Studios recently partnered to create a new iPad app, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore." The app was developed completely in Louisiana with 100 percent Louisiana talent. It recently received accolades from a variety of publications around the country, including the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times, which have highlighted it as one of the best examples of the next generation of interactive children's books. Wired.com called it a "game-changer." Both companies are less than two years old and have a combined workforce of more than 40 in Shreveport.
"Digital media and software development is Louisiana's top high-growth industry sector, and it currently is growing at a rate higher than 100 percent per year," said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. "We are thrilled that Gov. Jindal and the Legislature have adopted changes to the Digital Media tax credit program that make it even stronger, as this industry will continue to be a major focus of our business development efforts for years to come."
"Over the next three to five years, this industry will create thousands of new, high-paying jobs for Louisiana citizens," Moret added. "We also are delighted that the Technology Commercialization program is being extended, as this will help to catalyze even more job-creating collaborations between universities and the private sector in the future. Together, these two programs will help Louisiana attract more knowledge-based, high tech jobs in the years ahead."
"In the months prior to our launch of Twin Engine Labs, Louisiana seemed like a great place to come back home to, but not exactly the tech bubble we were accustomed to in San Francisco and other markets. The fact that every single one of our projects garners these amazing digital media tax credits shows that Louisiana is the next up-and-coming tech hub and is thinking in a very innovative way," said Ken Hanson, co-founder of Twin Engine Labs with his twin brother, Keith. "We have benefited greatly from everything that Louisiana's doing, the greatest of which has been growing our company from a pair of identical twins to a staff of 13 designers and engineers in just nine months, and in turn increasing our revenue by 400 percent."
"We're a startup company. We didn't necessarily have the wherewithal to go down that path and create the iPad book," said Lampton Enochs, managing partner of Moonbot Studios. "But with help from FastStart, we were able to create the (Morris Lessmore) iPad book. Taking advantage of Louisiana's Digital Media tax credits program, our company is fully committed to growing in the digital interactive field. We submitted a second app to Apple just days ago, and that will be approved, we hope, and launched in the next couple of weeks. This is something we wouldn't have been able to do without assistance from LED. We are a good example of how these targeted incentive programs can help us recruit and train talent that wasn't here before."
"The technology-based tax incentives have helped Embera cultivate relationships within Louisiana, in particular between the LSU-Health Sciences Center and BioSpace One in Shreveport, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, where many of our FDA trials will be held," said Ross Barrett, board chairman of Embera. "Louisiana offers world-class expertise, as evidenced by the research in Dr. Nicholas Goeders pharmacology lab at LSU-HSC in Shreveport. This expertise, along with the facilities at the BioSpace incubator and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, will contribute to Embera's progress as it advances through the FDA process."
To learn more about Louisiana's Digital Media and Technology Commercialization programs, visit OpportunityLouisiana.com.
About Moonbot Studios
Based in Shreveport, Moonbot Studios LLC is an animation and storytelling company co-founded by award-winning artists and filmmakers William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg and veteran film producer Lampton Enochs. Moonbot's philosophy is to develop stories as films, books, interactive applications and games, with a compelling emotional narrative and exciting visual esthetics. For more information, visit www.moonbotstudios.com.
About Twin Engine Labs
Founded in 2010 by Bossier City, La., natives Ken and Keith Hanson, Twin Engine Labs LLC has created apps for Cisco, Copinionation, Moonbot Studios and the American Songwriter magazine. Their work for large, multinational corporations has won many awards. For more information, visit www.twinenginelabs.com.
About Embera NeuroTherapeutics
Embera NeuroTherapeutics Inc. is a development-stage, pharmaceutical company focused on treating a broad range of addictions and obesity for which the major clinical challenge is a limited range of effective drug therapies. Embera is developing a novel drug combination (EMB-001) targeting specific brain functions that drive craving and relapse associated with these disorders, an approach based on breakthrough discoveries of the scientific founder. For more information, visit www.emberaneuro.com.