A family-owned animation company servicing the entertainment industry has moved to Winfield, Iowa from Los Angeles after Iowa legislators created new tax incentives for  film companies locating in the state.

The Iowa Film, Television and Video Project Promotion Program was passed in 2007 to provide tax incentives to attract the film industry, job diversity, and talent to the state. The Iowa Film Office of the Iowa Department of Economic Development operates the program.

“It created fertile ground for companies to relocate to Iowa,” said Stephen M. Jennings, founder and co-president of Grasshorse Technologies Inc. “It was the deciding factor in our transition to Iowa.”

Kathy Jennings-Buxton, Stephen’s sister and the company’s co-president said another factor that guided the decision include Iowa’s education system.

She said the business and cost of living environment in Iowa is favorable and will work in support of Grasshorse’ s objective to grow into a company worth $30 million with net revenues of $5 million by 2011.

“We believe Iowa is the place to be,” she said. “We hope to draw former Iowans back to the state.”

The co-presidents of the company are Iowa natives who grew up in the Winfield-Columbus Junction area.

“Many of the services Grasshorse plans to provide have not been available in Iowa and are needed for the production of films, videos and commercials,” said Tom Wheeler, the state’s film office manager.

Rep. Mark Davitt, D-Indianola, the Iowa legislator who spearheaded the state program, said Grasshorse will bring highly skilled jobs to Iowa and leading-edge technology.

Grasshorse is at of 102 S. Locust St. in Winfield while company officials search for a location that will best meet their needs. The company expects to establish a substantial business that will require a highly trained workforce, large facility and infrastructure to execute and deliver products to an expanding industry.

Vivan Jennings is working with the Iowa Department of Economic Development to find a community with the components needed for the company’s permanent location. It must not only meet the company’s needs, but would have the amenities to draw employees to the area.

The transition to Iowa will include the expansion of Grasshorse’s animation production studios to full-scale film production capabilities for 2-D and 3-D animation products. Grasshorse Animation, a division of Grasshorse Technologies, will continue to

grow and service the company’s animation production and visual effects clients such as Disney, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

Grasshorse Technologies sees a market opportunity to provide the Hollywood film industry a viable and affordable American alternative to production services that are increasingly being fulfilled overseas due to economic and budgetary concerns.

“Iowa’s film incentive program significantly changes the playing field,” Jennings-Buxton said. “These essential overseas jobs are highly sought-after positions that Iowans want. Now we can compete with the world market and provide a better quality of life with a sustainable job environment at the same time.”

Grasshorse’s veteran talent has contributed animation, visual effects, production and editing services to 15 commercials and music videos, 16 motion pictures and eight television series.



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