Governor John Bel Edwards spoke at the Louisiana Economic Development’s Second Annual Louisiana Entertainment Summit on Thursday morning.
Gov. Edwards followed up his appearance at the Louisiana Entertainment Summit with this statement:
Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Asteri President Marcus Morton announced Asteri will expand digital development capabilities through an innovative state program that creates permanent entertainment industry jobs in Louisiana. Headquartered in Shreveport, Asteri is a digital content creator and large-scale testing solution provider.
Asteri, which now has 27 employees, plans to hire at least five new employees in a variety of development and production positions under the Entertainment Job Creation Program, launched by the State of Louisiana in 2017. The company’s new jobs will have an average annual salary of $58,200, plus benefits. Asteri is the latest company to participate in the Louisiana Economic Development program that cultivates sustainable jobs for Louisiana’s motion picture, digital, music and theatrical industries. The performance-based program stimulates investment in permanent quality jobs for Louisiana residents in those entertainment fields.
“Louisiana’s Entertainment Job Creation Program is encouraging innovative companies to invest locally and create quality jobs across the entertainment spectrum in Louisiana, from motion pictures to digital effects and other production activities,” Gov. Edwards said. “Asteri is involved in cutting-edge development from its home in North Louisiana’s I-20 Cyber Corridor. Its expansion is a good fit for the 21st-century economy we are working to create in Louisiana.”
Gov. Edwards announced the Asteri expansion in his morning keynote address at the 2019 Louisiana Entertainment Summit in Baton Rouge. Morton later participated as a summit guest on “The Digital Horizon” panel, discussing with four other industry leaders the intersection of virtual reality, augmented reality, video games and the future of digital interactive media in Louisiana.
“The Asteri team has deep roots in entertainment content creation ranging from music to TV, and feature film to video games,” Morton said. “Together, with the support of LED, we feel very well-positioned to build out a highly successful content portfolio while continuing to expand and improve upon our large-scale testing solution.”
Asteri has opened up the process of digital content creation to feedback from its network of 35 million users. Through Asteri’s proprietary telemetry-based analytics platform, music, movie and game makers can get meaningful consumer feedback on their work early enough in the development process to guide design decisions. The consumer testing insights help make a final product more successful in the marketplace.
Asteri CEO Steve Gray previously served as executive in charge of production for a major international digital entertainment company and was involved in the production of successful gaming series, including Final Fantasy and Lord of the Rings.
“Asteri’s announcement is welcomed news,” Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins said. “Shreveport sits at the center of the I-20 Cyber Corridor. The digital development jobs created by Asteri strengthen and diversify our economy, positioning Shreveport to thrive in the digital age.”
To grow the number of permanent Louisiana entertainment jobs, the state created program incentives in 2017 that reward investment in permanent quality jobs held by Louisiana residents. For jobs paying $45,000 or more annually, a participating employer is eligible for a 15 percent payroll tax credit. That credit increases to 20 percent for new jobs paying more than $66,000 annually. A similar incentive is available for music-related companies.
Under the performance-based program, applicants may qualify for up to $1 million in payroll credits per year. By creating and maintaining a minimum of five new jobs, each participating company may be eligible for the payroll tax credit for five years, with an option to renew for five additional years. The companies must be engaged in the development or distribution of audio or visual entertainment products for public consumption.
Louisiana pioneered modern-era film production tax incentives in 2002 and remains one of the leading destinations for motion picture production in the world. The industry generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually in project-based spending across the state, from feature films to episodic TV productions.