Effingham County loses jobs, tax funds to Moon River Studios

Effingham County loses jobs, tax funds to Moon River Studios

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Disappointed residents say they've been let down and cheated out of their tax dollars after Moon River Studios has canceled its big plans to build a movie studio on 1,600 acres of land in Effingham County.

According to SEC filings for fiscal year 2015, Moon River's parent company reported a $6 million loss. Some residents say the county was robbed of the hundreds of jobs promised and at least $200,000 spent in tax dollars.

Over the last few years, residents in Effingham County say the plans to build America's largest film and TV studio have felt much like a roller coaster.

"It's here and then it's gone. Then it's here and then it's gone," said Eddie Morris, Effingham County.

Morris says the ups and downs eventually made folks sick, praying it wasn't too good to be true.

"They were very excited about it," said Morris.

But their worst fears became reality this week when Moon River terminated its land agreement with Effingham's Industrial Authority. A reality that left folks around here feeling robbed.

While the idea of a mini-Hollywood in their backyard was great, Morris says the promise to bring more than a thousand jobs meant so much more.

"A lot of people around here were hoping, 'Hey, I'll get a job so I don't have to go to Savannah or here to Statesboro.' You know, a company that pays well," said Morris.

He says most of the jobs in this area are only minimum wage, and the opportunities beyond that are limited.

"Plus, I have a son. He's autistic and we were kind of hoping we could get him a job over there," said Morris.

But Moon River can barely pay its own employees right now. According to a fiscal report filed to the SEC last week, they didn't make a dime in 2014 and lost more than a million dollars.

And it only got worse.

In 2015, they made $18,000 and lost $6 million.

And while this property will still be available for Moon River, the company claims it would need at least $2 million to get off the ground.

It doesn't make a difference to the folks here in the county as long as this cleared 1,600-acre lot will one day be the place of many more jobs.

"Eventually someone is going to come along, you know everything is booming around here so," Morris said.

The Effingham IDA will discuss the Moon River Studios termination agreement at their meeting on Thursday, April 21st at 6 p.m. This will be a public meeting at the Welcome Center at 520 W. 3rd Street in Springfield.

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