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Officials debate economic impact of 'The Help'

GREENWOOD — The Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Industrial Foundation estimates that the filming of the hit movie “The Help” was a big help to the Greenwood area economy.

Bill Crump, the foundation’s chairman, said the film’s production in Greenwood last summer brought $13 million into the community.

Crump told The Greenwood Commonwealth that evidence of the economic effect was in banks and businesses that received lots of large bills. Cast and crew members were paid expense money with $50 and $100 bills.

The president of the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce says Crump’s estimate of the film’s effect may be too low. He cites revenue at area hotels and numerous other businesses in saying that the economic boost amounted to more than $13 million.

Suresh Chawla, president of the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce, said he felt Crump’s figure of $13 million was too low.

“With all due respect to my good friend, Bill, I think there was a lot more than $13 million. I know between The Alluvian, the Hampton Inn, the Holiday Inn and the Budget Host hotels, the lodging revenue had to be $1 million,” said chamber president Suresh Chawla.

Chawla rattled off a list of other businesses that were “massively impacted” by “The Help,” such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ainsworth Sign Co., the Farmers Market and restaurants.

Chawla, who also serves on the Greenwood Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors, said the CVB “had its highest-revenue year ever. That’s a direct reflection on the increase in hotel and restaurant sales.”

Greenwood Mayor Carolyn McAdams also said numerous businesses benefited.

“It brought 170 extra people here for eight to 10 months,” McAdams said. The proof is in the city’s June sales tax check from the state, which dropped 12 percent from the same time last year.

“The only thing I could attribute it to was the movie,” McAdams said.

McAdams and Chawla said Crump needs to get another movie to come to Greenwood.

“I challenge Bill Crump to get us a movie a year,” the mayor said, adding, “We want them to be nice movies that are tastefully done, like ‘The Help.'”

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