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COMPANY GIVING L.A. 2ND LOOK : VORTEX MEDIA ARTS SEEKING LOWER COSTS.

Byline: Rick Orlov Daily News Staff Writer

Vortex Media Arts Inc. is the kind of business Los Angeles wants back.

The savvy multimedia company that produces interactive CD-ROMs fled North Hollywood to Burbank three years ago because of Los Angeles' weighty start-up fees. With Tuesday's cut in the city's gross receipts tax, the growing company is thinking about coming home.

``We've been looking to move anyway because the costs in the Burbank Media District are so high, but we were confining our search to Burbank and Glendale,'' said Rick Giolito, the company's vice president. ``Now, I'd have to say Los Angeles is definitely in play.''

Vortex was formed in 1994 and has 33 workers. It has tapped into a burgeoning field merging computer technology with entertainment and has been involved in projects for ``The Simpsons'' and ABC television.

Start-up costs were high, Giolito said, and Burbank offered a lower tax rate. The company now pays about $1,500 in a tax based on the number of employees, not gross receipts.

``It was strictly because the tax base was so high,'' Giolito said of the company's move. ``It is really hard on start-ups, particularly in this industry where the initial costs are so high.''

Recognizing the problem, the City Council approved an 80 percent cut in gross receipts taxes for nearly 400 businesses like Vortex. With the action, the tax rate for multimedias will be reduced from $5.91 to $1.19 per $1,000 in gross receipts.

Moving back to Los Angeles still might increase Vortex's tax bill, Giolito said, but there are other factors.

``Los Angeles has so much office space, at lower rates,'' Giolito said. ``It becomes an offset on how much you are paying for rent against taxes. The tax reduction makes Los Angeles more competitive for firms like ours.''

And Los Angeles officials are trying to let companies know it.

``We got a call (Wednesday) morning from the Mayor's Office,'' Giolito said. ``They want us back.''

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Photo

Photo: Rick Giolito is vice president of Vortex Media Arts Inc., a multimedia business that may leave Burbank.

Gus Ruelas/Daily News
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 20, 1997
Words:355
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