City makes the most of its locations, assets to bring money from TV, film industry

The city of East Point, GA, was named for its location as a 19th century railroad terminus near Atlanta.

Now, with film and TV production booming all across Georgia, the suburb of 30,000 people is again benefitting from its key EPHardwarelocation. It’s between downtown Atlanta and the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International. It’s easily reached via highways and mass transit.

And East Point is within a “film triangle” of sorts — flanked immediately to the north by the new Tyler Perry Studios complex, to the east by EUE Screen Gems and to the south by Atlanta Metro Studios.

This makes East Point an ideal location for film production and industry professionals and businesses that serve the industry. As a result there is a broad “spillover effect” boosting the city’s role in the industry and lifting job creation at local businesses.

“We extend as much hospitality, cordiality and professionalism as we can because we really see the benefit for the community,” says Maceo Rogers, East Point’s director of economic development.

‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Stranger Things’ filmed here

In just the last couple of years, the Oscar-nominated hit “Hidden Figures” used East Point as a location. So did the Netflix smash “Stranger Things.” Scouts from the Oprah Winfrey-backed “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and other productions come around constantly.Boswells.jpg

Some highlights of the economic impact:

  • East Point Studios started three years ago by offering 23,000 square feet for production, construction and storage space for movie and TV crews. It is owned and operated by seasoned film industry professionals Kim and Elliott Boswell.
  • East Point Hardware, experiencing strong business from crews needing lumber, nails and other supplies, is doubling its space. “We get a pretty good amount of business from everybody that’s filming around here,” says Robert Gallagher, store manager. That includes “a whole lot of propane” for caterers and crews. “It runs the gamut.”
  • BPS Companies has consolidated its various locations across metro Atlanta into its one million square-foot facilities. TV and movie productions account for a significant portion of the thriving business’s revenue, says CFO Debra Stanley.
  • The Sword of the Lord and other East Point churches are often hired out for use as a base camp, where crew and cast gather for long shoots.
  • The 1930s library has been used for “Stranger Things” as well as an upcoming movie about the Unabomber called “Manifesto.”
  • The residences along Linwood Avenue are appealing for walking scenes that need a historic touch. Homes in the city are rented out to crew members or for location shooting.

Effect boosts city coffers and pride, too

City governments also earn income for permits, fees and other costs associated with productions.

For its part, East Point’s government is doing everything it can to bring more productions to town. And economic development specialist Erin Rodgers sees more than just a financial impact.

“It’s good for civic pride and for the kids in the community,” she says. “It’s very inspiring to them, to see there are more jobs and more career opportunities for them here. They won’t have to go to Los Angeles if they’re interested.”

Using entertainment industry to reinvent a successful business

Economic growth doesn’t always rely on something brand new.

At BPS Companies of East Point, sometimes it’s about reinventing your business to make the most of a new opportunity.

That’s what BPS did a few years ago with movie and TV productions, a booming industry that’s responsible now for $8 billion in economic impact across the state.

BPS is a 64-year-old company with 95 employees. During the economic Debra Stanley, Mike Reid of BPS.jpgdownturn, the company bought an 800,000 square-foot warehouse (that’s about 44 football fields) in East Point, where it already had a smaller facility.

BPS is primarily a used auto parts distribution and light manufacturing business. It had locations across metro Atlanta and wanted to consolidate.

“We knew we would lease some of the space, and that was about the time that the movie business starting moving in here,” recalls CFO Debra Stanley.

Now much of the big building is steadily rented out to companies in the entertainment industry. It’s mostly used for warehouse space to store equipment and to build sets, Stanley says.

“The building stays leased out between good tenants in other industries and the entertainment business,” she says. “We have welcomed the entertainment business and they pay well.”

East Point is a frequent location for movies and TV shows, including the Oscar-nominated hit “Hidden Figures” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”

Its convenient location near downtown Atlanta, major highways and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport makes it appealing to studios. And the East Point government works hard to entice productions for the city’s benefit.

“The boom in the entertainment industry has been an advantage for us, because we rarely go without rent,” Stanley says. “We have been able to have someone move in by the time the other ones are going out.”