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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Entertainment Job Creation Program

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Digital content creator firm Asteri to add employees

Asteri has plans to expand its Shreveport workforce by almost 19% under the state’s Entertainment Job Creation Program.

Asteri is a digital content creator and largescale testing solution provider. Company President Marcus Morton said Asteri will expand its staff of 27 by at least five employees. The new jobs will come with an average salary of $58,200, plus benefits.

The state of Louisiana formed the in 2017 to create permanent entertainment industry jobs in Louisiana. The performance-based program stimulates investment in permanent, quality jobs for Louisiana residents in the motion picture, digital, music and theatrical industries.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the expansion recently at a keynote address at the 2019 Louisiana Entertainment Summit in Baton Rouge.

“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,” Edwards said in a news release. “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.”

Asteri’s proprietary telemetry-based analytics platform provides movie, music and game creators with consumer feedback during the development stages. With a network of 35 million users, Asteri’s platform can offer content creators information that can improve and speed product launches.

“The Asteri team has deep roots in entertainment content creation ranging from music to TV, and feature film to video games,” Morton said in a news release announcing the expansion. “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 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 in a news release. “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.

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