WALKER—Another piece of Hollywood comes to West Michigan: an old abandoned factory in Walker is now the home of a permanent film studio.
Dubbed Hanger 42 Studios, it is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the area in the next few years.
The old Lear plant off Alpine Avenue in Walker shut down in 2005. Now, there's life again. Instead of car parts, they'll be making movies there. The old factory is being billed as Michigan's first fully financed film production studio, with 450,000 square feet of indoor production space.
Hanger 42 officially opens next week, but it has already been used to film scenes for the latest 50 Cent movie, "The Gun." Some of "The Genesis Code" was also filmed there last summer.
Michigan's Film Incentives helped spark interest from private investors, who then sank $45 million into the property. And movie producers could get up to 42 percent of that back from the state in tax credits.
And the studio is expected to bring more films to the area--and jobs.
"We absolutely think it will boost the economy," said spokesperson Tara Powers. "It certainly only a major milestone in the development of the film industry. We've already had about 150 workers here working three shifts for the last few months."
Powers said the studio will create 50 to 60 administrative positions and 750 to 1,000 additional jobs over three years.
Since the movie tax credit passed, Michigan has become an attractive place to film movies, because production costs are cheaper. Nearly 50 projects filmed here in 2009, up from 40 in 2008. That's the highest in the nation.