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Go-to site for entertainment coming to Covington

A “one of a kind, massive, film, TV, music and video gaming production site” is close to coming to Covington.

An unidentified principal investor out of Atlanta is in the process of purchasing the land, which will become a studio backlot, office space for editing and processing and soundstages. According to Dave Bernd, Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development that investor will partner with one of two major film companies out of California who are looking at the site to make their East Coast production headquarters.

“It’s going to cement Covington as the Hollywood of the South,” Bernd said. “It will likely be the go-to site for entertainment globally.”

“This is like, to me, West Point getting Kia, Covington is getting this,” Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said.

An announcement in 2013 said a $100 million film studio would be coming to Covington, which is already home to privately-owned Triple Horse Studios. That studio project, however, fell apart due to lack of funding. This project, Bernd said, has the funding already in place

“The difference is there was no money with that one,” Bernd said. “The money is buttoned up with this one already.”

Now that the land is already in the process of being transferred, the next step is engineering and having drawings of the studio and production facility drawn. From there the partnership between the principal owner and the production company will be cemented. The location of the studio and the name of the principal investor has not yet been identified because more land may be needed to fulfill the film companies’ visions of what the facility will entail.

The project, called Project Three Ring by Newton County’s economic development team, will bring in more than 1,000 jobs with large salaries, according to Bernd.

“It’s about bringing in investment and bringing in jobs for our community,” Johnston said. “I’m very excited about having a cool, sexy enterprise that’s one of a kind in the state of Georgia. But the biggest thing is the fact of the level of jobs it’s going to bring in here.”

The state of Georgia lists the average salary of $84,000 for jobs in the film industry.

“There will be jobs from grips to pipe fitters, carpenters, welders, all the way up to the stage hands, agents and into highly technical Class A office space-housed post production, dark room editors and digital engineers working on films,” Bernd said.

Bernd and Serra Phillips, Newton County’s Economic Development team, have been working on Project Three Ring for a year and a half, after coming up with the concept and pitching it to potential investors.

“It is an awesome example of working together to bring something here that is very unique,” Johnston said. “I want to be the No. 1 community in Georgia if not the Southeast. I want us to be sought after. This is the bedrock of that process. It’s one of the pieces of really putting us in that position.”