Collier County spending $500K on documentary film

Published: Updated:

NAPLES, Fla.- A documentary film highlighting Collier County’s new artificial reef will cost taxpayers $500,000.

“People see things on TV and in movies, and then they go, ‘I wanna go there,'” said Eileen Connolly-Keesler, President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Collier County.

That’s the premise behind making the half-million-dollar documentary on the new artificial reef for PBS.

“The hope is it’s gonna be a national film and that people around the world are going to learn about what’s happening here in Collier County,” said Connolly-Keesler.

The construction of one of the largest artificial reefs around the world is mostly being paid for by a $1.4 million settlement from BP after the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. The reef is set to attract boaters, fishermen, divers, snorklers and nature lovers. But, is spending $500,000 of taxpayer tourist money really worth the investment?

“To me, it’s a lot of money for a documentary,” said visitor, Dee Duffy. “I don’t mind building the reef you can advertise it other ways than spend $500,000 on a documentary.”

But, Connolly-Keesler says the return on that investment will be in the millions with a direct impact on tourism.

“You’ll see people wanting to see it. Wanting to dive, fish, people staying in town hotels, buying gas,” said Connolly-Keesler.

The reef is expected to boost the local economy by more than $30 million each year. Collier County taxpayers say with a return like that, spending $500,000 on the documentary makes sense.

“It probably is a fairly quick return and good for the local economy,” said taxpayer Vick Paidel.

“It will help tourism,” said Jimmy Woods.

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