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Greg Bluestein

Kasim and Nathan’s excellent Hollywood adventure

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (left) with Gov. Nathan Deal at a 2014 event in Savannah. AJC file/Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (left) with Gov. Nathan Deal at a 2014 event in Savannah. AJC file/Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed are headed to California on Thursday to keep Georgia on Hollywood’s mind.

The annual “Georgia Night in L.A.” has been a staple on the governor’s schedule as the film industry becomes an increasingly vital part of Georgia’s economy. The state is a bona fide movie and TV powerhouse and is now among the most popular destinations worldwide for film production.

This year’s visit comes after Disney, Marvel and other Hollywood giants threatened a boycott of Georgia if Deal signed the “religious liberty” legislation into law. Deal vetoed the legislation, which would have broadened legal protections for opponents of same-sex marriage.

Deal has become the most ardent defender of the tax credits embraced by his predecessor, Sonny Perdue. The incentives, which Georgia sweetened in 2008 by offering up to 30 percent tax credits to productions with beefy budgets, have made Georgia a hotbed for movie production – and cost the state’s coffers well over a quarter of a billion dollars.

“It is a big part of what we’re doing, and it’s a big part of our workforce training,” the governor said in an interview. “And it’s an important part of our economic future and it’s altogether appropriate to meet with the leaders of the industry who still happen to live in L.A. – we’re hoping more of them will migrate to Georgia.”