Through his love of film and the entertainment industry, Jason Crawford stumbled upon the field of economic development. A graduate of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Jason was hired by the City of Santa Clarita as a “film guy” to help attract the film and TV industry and build programs to support the industry. That was 13 years ago, and now Jason is Chair of the Board of the California Association for Local Economic Development, leads the team responsible for Santa Clarita’s success in receiving LAEDC’s 2016 Most Business Friendly City Award, and has developed the only program in Southern California specifically targeting the film industry through city zoning.
The City of Santa Clarita launched its award-winning film program in 2002 to help attract and retain the film industry, including location filming and film-related businesses. The office currently issues permits for all location filming within the city ensuring there is a minimal impact on residents and businesses, promotes the city as an ideal place for the film industry to do businesses, and promotes the Santa Clarita Valley as a great place for location filming. Today, the film industry is responsible for more than $30 million annually in direct economic impact to the Santa Clarita community and local businesses from location filming alone.
Jason has found that his creative skills gained from his education and experience in the film industry has helped him to excel as an economic developer. He has used skills including storytelling and visualizing to tell the story and paint the picture of Santa Clarita’s film-friendly locations, the area’s geography and topography, and assets of over 20 sound stages and nearly a dozen movie ranches. But he’s also relied on his analytical skills, drawing from his experience in managing film crews and project budgets. As he puts it, “As an economic developer you have to work both the left and right sides of your brain. You’re reporting facts and data but also creating solutions.” He’s particularly proud of the NetFlix series named after the city, Santa Clarita Diet, as well as the new relationship he’s been able to build with Disney and their planned new studio complex, benefiting the entire Santa Clarita Valley.
An avid traveler, Jason has been to such places as China, Vietnam, Barcelona, and recently traveled to Cuba. He enjoys exploring various cultures and collecting experiences discovered in obscure, off-the-beaten path adventures. He brings this same energy, sense of adventure, and excellence to the City of Santa Clarita’s film program!