When President Obama speaks tonight, America's creative community will, like all Americans, watch and listen and hope that our leaders will come together, help correct the course, and set our economy back on the right track. And, like workers and businesses in every sector, the creative community knows the importance of putting this nation's economy back on its feet and Americans back to work.
We have a long and storied history of promoting and practicing what is great -- and what is possible -- in our nation, and we are confident that the men and women who make American movies, television shows, and other creations will be part of the ultimate solution.
While people are familiar with the big screen and the red carpet; the Oscars and the Hollywood sign, they might not be aware of what the American creative film and television community means in terms of jobs. In a struggling economy that has 9% unemployment, the U.S. film and television industry stands out as a unique and worthy asset to the American economy. We have weathered hard times and grown while keeping our products affordable and creating new jobs in every region of the country.
Over 2.2 million Americans are employed as a result of film and television production. Those jobs result in $137 billion dollars in wages to hard working, mostly middle class, men and women each year. These jobs are not just in California and New York. Motion picture and television production occurs in ALL 50 states; states such as Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Mexico, Utah and my home state of Connecticut. In many of these states, infrastructure is being built to support production and local workforces of skilled technicians are developing.
And when production comes to a local community it means business not only for those whose work centers on film and TV, but for caterers, hotels, dry cleaners, and lumber yards too. These businesses are local and, time and time again, plow the money they make directly back into their communities, generating even more returns from local production. Vendors and suppliers, predominantly small businesses, earn over $38 billion in payments annually from the film and television industry.
Films and television series produced in America are also a leading export and help the United States remain competitive around the globe. For the three-year period of 2007 to 2009, the production industry generated a $36.4 billion trade surplus.
The coming year will bring a great debate about the best, most cost-effective way to produce new jobs and protect those we now have. Our voice in this debate will be clear: the craft of making films and television series is clearly worthy of our efforts to protect jobs here at home and to grow even more as the economy recovers. While America's creative film and television community is indeed thriving, the global economic downturn remains a serious challenge today -- and an inescapable threat in the future -- to us, as it does to most American businesses.
Further, the threat posed by theft of the products we create, by thieves both foreign and domestic, is real and has a direct impact on the millions of jobs created by our community. When people steal film or television, it is these workers that suffer.
Fewer jobs are created and health and pension benefits are harmed. Strong protections for intellectual property will help sustain a craft that historically and consistently makes such a valued contribution to America's economy.
So while our leaders in Washington spar over how best to resolve this crisis, we can never lose sight of the enormous good film and television production brings to our country and to our people -- a source of well-paying jobs for hardworking men and women, of valuable trading opportunities, of astonishing technological innovation, and of stories that endure forever.
This piece was originially posted on HuffingtonPost.Com and can be read in its original format here.