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VISITORS BUREAU Film commission to get $60K



Published: Fri, August 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The film commissioner said he has leads on other films possibly coming here.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Richard Ouzounian is going to finally get the chance to put up or shut up.

And the head of the Western Reserve Film Commission is confident he will meet the challenge.

The acting board of the Mahoning County Convention & amp; Visitors Bureau unanimously agreed Thursday to give the film commission $60,000 of CVB funds to last the entity until the end of the year.

The agreement is subject to final approval by the county prosecutor's office.

Last month, the CVB board gave the commission $5,000 to continue its work of bringing films to the county.

Economic boost

Ouzounian told the CVB the upcoming motion picture "Horrors of War" filmed in Youngstown for four days last month. The cash impact for the county was $43,080, which included hotel rooms at the Red Roof Inn, rental cars, security provided by the Youngstown Police Department and meals.

He said the total economic impact to the community was probably closer to $107,700. The movie "Walker Payne," which shot just two days in the area, had a local impact of $383,250.

"For the month of July, the film commission has had a total economic impact to our community of $490,950," Ouzounian said.

He added he has met with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, former Youngstown boxer turned movie producer, about getting a package of films shot in the county.

He also has had talks with a movie producer who has an $8 million film in the works and would spend eight weeks in the Mahoning Valley shooting the movie.

"You can imagine the economic impact that would have," Ouzounian said.

The film includes a rodeo theme, and Ouzounian said he told the producer Youngstown has a new venue to shoot the scenes -- the Youngstown Convocation Center. He said he's been in contact with Jeff Kossow, arena executive director, about the idea.

Another producer has expressed an interest in shooting a Christian-themed movie here, and the producer of "Horrors of War" added he would like to shoot two other movies in this area. The films all could be shot here before the end of this year, Ouzounian said.

Budget

The CVB is funded by 1 percent of the county's 3 percent lodging tax on hotels and motels. The other 2 percent goes to support the Western Reserve Port Authority, which oversees operation of the Youngstown-Warren Municipal Airport in Vienna Township.

The CVB's 2005 budget is slightly more than $129,000, but it has a carry-over of about $220,000 from 2004.

Ouzounian's long-range plan would be to convince the CVB to permanently fund the commission with 1 percent of the bed tax for the next three to five years. After that time, the commission would be self-sustaining, he said.

In other business, members of the Mahoning County Lodging Council urged the CVB to better open up the lines of communication with them, especially in the area of marketing. Council members said they are using a portion of their own budgets to market themselves, something the CVB should be doing.

The CVB board also is looking for a full-time executive director. James F. Petraglia, county human resources director, said at least 30 people have applied for the job.




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