By Will Johnson
ELKHART – The city of Elkhart is looking to become “film friendly,” following the passage of an ordinance during a regularly scheduled meeting of the Elkhart City Council held on Monday, Jan. 6.
City Administrator Judith Cantrell explained the ordinance resulted from a workshop she recently attended.
“I went to a ‘film friendly’ workshop a couple of months ago and we discussed the various tax incentives and economic development that would follow if we created a film friendly atmosphere for anyone who would like to film, locally,” the city administrator informed the council.
One of the areas discussed at the workshop, Cantrell said, was that filmmakers were quite often looking at Texas because of the statewide incentives being offered.
“They are looking for smaller towns like ours. There is a lot of economic incentive to have them come in. Elkhart is a great place for them to look. We have the ballfields. We have a little straight shot downtown. We have the Friday Night Lights (atmosphere). We have blighted areas. We have a golf course and there is an array of opportunity for us to bring in some economic growth and promote our businesses,” Cantrell said.
As she continued, the city administrator indicated there were three steps the city must take for the city to be certified as film friendly.
“One was to attend a workshop, which has already been done. Next, we need to get photographs from around town and then we have to pass film friendly rules. They gave us – the state of Texas gave us the guidelines. It is – across the board – what every city in the state is using. It pretty much tells the filmmakers we want you to come here but at the same time you have to respect the city, city time and the residents and our businesses,” she said.
She stressed this did not give filmmakers the right to enter on to private property, but added if residents wanted to get their property on a list of where they could go, they should come by City Hall to sign up.
“Once we pass the rules, all we would have left to do would be to submit some photographs and then we would become film friendly. One of the rules they have is if a production comes in, they have to use the local economy,” Cantrell said.
She cited restaurants, lumber yards and several other area businesses as those who would see economic growth.
Following several more minutes of discussion, the guidelines for filming within the city limits of Elkhart were approved by the council.
In other matters brought before the council:
- A resolution adopting and/or reaffirming policies and procedures for civil rights, equal opportunity, limited English Proficiency Plan and fair housing was approved by the council.
- Signatories for Texas Community Development Block Grant Contract 7219131 were approved by the council.
- The council adopted a proclamation proclaiming February as Fair Housing Month and authorizing the publication of a Fair Housing Public Service Announcement.
- No action was taken on an ordinance establishing rules and regulations for amusement redemption machines within the city limits of Elkhart.
- No action was taken on an ordinance adopting rules and regulations on food establishments, retail food stores, temporary food establishments, mobile food units and roadside vendors within the city limits of Elkhart.
- No action was taken on an ordinance concerning the burning of brush, limbs and leaves within the city limits of Elkhart.
- A resolution ordering the May 2 general election was approved.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.