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The Park City Film Studios celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning at Quinn's Junction. From left, Larry Cox, Michael Savoie, Greg Erickson, George Rosenthal, Britt Penrod, Chris Conabee, Dana Williams, Todd Bay and Marshall Moore turned shovels of dirt after a brief ceremony. (Photo by: Christopher Reeves/The Park Record)
The state-of-the-art Park City Film Studios will help Utah become more visible in the international story-telling community as well as draw more filmmakers to the area.

That was the theme Tuesday morning when studio owner and developer Greg Ericksen and 100 guests that included filmmakers, entertainers and press gathered at Quinn's Junction, west of S.R. 248, for a groundbreaking ceremony.

During a short press conference prior to grabbing his shovel, Ericksen greeted the crowd and said how honored he was to be there.

"While the sky is falling in Washington, a new star is rising in Park City," Ericksen said. "This is a place where stories will be told, not just to local audiences, but to world audiences. The pioneer spirit is here with everything we do in Utah. We're innovative. We're tenacious. Yes, we have our differences, but unlike Washington, we come together to make things work regardless of our politics."

Park City Mayor Dana Williams, who accepted a $75,000 incentive check on behalf of the city from Ericksen to expand the area's trail system, acknowledged how protective Park City-area residents are when it comes to their community.

"Twelve years ago, this area was slated for big-box commercial development, but if you look across the way now, you will see the home of the U.S. Ski Team and the skating rink."

Since S.R. 248 has become a major entry into Park City, the negotiations regarding the film-studio development were contentious.

"Regardless of all the iterations this property has gone through all these years, I think we came up with a mutually agreeable plan and I think it is incumbent upon all of us to make sure this is successful," Williams said.

Britt Penrod, vice president of business development for Raleigh Enterprises, which will be involved with the Park City Film Studios, said the groundbreaking is the result of perseverance and dedication over the years.

"I believe that success has many fathers and mothers," Penrod said as he acknowledged Raleigh Enterprises Chairman George Rosenthall, who was also in attendance. "We're in this position because of George and his company."

The Park City Film Studios, which will be located in a multi-building plaza, will be capable of handling anything to do with filmmaking, Penrod said.

"The site was always envisioned to be versatile and unique, so whenever the (Utah) Film Commission get the opportunity to have television shows, this site and the stages will handle the productions that come its way, and the sound stages will also be large enough to handle most of the film production opportunities that will come down the pipeline," he said.

Penrod also praised the support the studio has had within the community.

"May we all take the role of being parents of success," he said.

Chris Conabee, managing director of the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development's corporate recruitment and incentives, and Marshall Moore, director of the Utah Film Commission, both talked about how the film studios fit within Governor Gary Herbert's visions of boosting Utah's economic development.

The Governor's mission includes four objectives.

Strengthen and grow existing Utah businesses, both urban and rural.

Increase innovation in entrepreneurship and investment.

Increase international business.

Prioritize education to develop the workforce of the future.

"This film studio can work in those capacities," he said. "It will touch on all of these objectives."

Moore named a list of films and TV programs, including all three "High School Musical" movies, "127 Hours," "The Lone Ranger," "Dr. Who" and "Transformers," that have been filmed in Utah thanks to a motion-picture incentive program that rewards filmmakers 20 to 25 percent of every dollar they spend for filmmaking in the state.

"In the past 11 years or so, the program has worked to bring more than 127 different types of projects to the state," he said. "In my opinion, one or all of those could have used a facility like what is being built here."

In the past few years, specifically since 2006, the only types of facilities that have been available for motion-picture production are converted warehouses, Moore said.

"The last time we had a true sound stage was the Osmond Studios in Provo, but they have been unavailable to us," he said. "There have been some smaller ones, but not to this grandeur.

Michael J. Savoie, Dean of Technology and Computing at the Utah Valley University and Larry Cox from EMM Technology also spoke Tuesday.