DeFrancisco questions film hub oversight

Jul 31, 2017
Originally published on July 31, 2017 11:33 am

Update:

Sen. John DeFrancisco has met with Howard Zemsky, head of the Empire State Development Corporation, and says he had an excellent meeting regarding the future of the film hub. DeFrancisco says Zemsky has started the process of meeting with local individuals interested in projects at the film hub. He says he expects things will “start to move” shortly with central New York individuals who want to get film projects going at the DeWitt facility. DeFrancisco says Zemsky has started meeting with local individuals. And, DeFrancisco says he was "very appreciative" that Zemsky contacted him and is moving the process along.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) is trying to drum up business for the film hub in DeWitt. But the deputy Senate majority leader says he isn’t getting through to the state agency running the facility.

The film hub, a $15 million production facility, was buzzing with activity earlier this summer, during the filming of a movie called “Sushi Tushi” in June. But it still remains empty much of the time, as the state continues to struggle to find movie projects that will fill the 52,000 square foot venue on a consistent basis.

That’s why DeFrancisco says he is disappointed that no one is answering his calls about potential projects.

"I’ve contacted Howard Zemsky, who is head of economic development. Gave him a proposal from local people, heard nothing. Kept calling. Still heard nothing. And I have no idea what they’re going to do,” DeFrancisco said. “But we’ve got to try things with local people who have a vested interested in central New York.”

DeFransisco says he’s suggesting projects involving post-production and projects connected with Syracuse University that need approval to get started. The film hub was initially run by the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. A corruption probe into the construction of the facility and SUNY Poly has placed the building under the direction of the Empire State Development Corporation. DeFransisco sees it as one example of a string of economic development projects that he said don’t get the oversight they should.

"It’s like we have a Christmas tree we have to give to everybody and anybody who the governor may want to. And that’s the problem -- there’s very little checks and balances on the spending of those funds.”

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