A report by Anna Marie de la Fuente for Variety.
The Dominican Republic is poised to take a bold leap into the future thanks to Brooklyn-born tech and real estate titan Louis Arriola, chairman and founder of NYLA Media, whose ambitious multi-million-dollar plans include the vertical integration of a 5G broadband network, a studio facility, tech training and game development, film & TV production and a data center in the Caribbean country.
Arriola has already broken ground on an 80-acre site in Punta Cana, best known for its luxury beach resorts, where the new state-of-the-art Pro Capital Film Studios facility will rise. These will include three-to-four sound stages, and a “smart stage” equipped with a green screen and other VFX technology.
Together with his joint venture partner CHT Holdings Dominicana, Arriola has begun the construction of a data center and the installation of a 5G fiber cable network. “I want to bring digital literacy to the Dominican Republic where 80% of the schools have no access to the internet,” he said.
Set to open in roughly three months, the country’s first Tier IV Data Center dovetails with the partners’ vision to establish a “new Silicon Valley of the Caribbean” in the Dominican Republic, comprising “more than 200,000 square meters of innovation, cybersecurity, education, entrepreneurship, technology and passion.”
By integrating his telecom, tech, entertainment and real estate businesses in the Dominican Republic, Arriola hopes to generate more jobs and improve the infrastructure of the country.
“I’ve been doing business in the DR for the past 12 years; I know and believe in this country,” he said, adding that it was not his aim to compete with the six-year-old Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios, which sits on a 43-acre site and features a water tank and several sound stages.
“I’m just trying to facilitate my own projects,” he noted, adding that he had some A-list talent projects in the pipeline aside from his local micro-budget films. An upcoming NYLA project will actually make use of Pinewood. “I hope for my studio to be done by the end of the year,” he said, adding that a water tank could be added in the future, if needed. His real estate plans also include the development of housing and commercial property on some 15 to 20 acres nearby.
Founded along with entertainment execs and producers Jenny Alonzo and David Ross, NYLA Media Group has sought to produce and publish content for all platforms including film, television, games and e-sports.
As CEO-co founder, Alonso is producing/executive producing a slate of film and television properties at the company, currently based in the capital of Santo Domingo.
Its past credits include: “Will to Love” (2015), starring Keisha Knight Pulliam, Marques Houston, and Draya Michelle, and written and directed by Chris Stokes; “A Weekend with The Family” (2016), starring Marques Houston and KarruecheTran; “Only For One Night” (2016), starring Brian White, Tran and Angelique Pereira, which debuted exclusively on BET Networks in 2016, and “Up North,” winner of four awards at the 2018 Series Fest.
The Dominican Republic has become a competitive film and TV production destination due to a set of film incentives introduced in the 2010 Film Law, which offers a freely transferable tax credit of 25% on qualified expenditure for international productions shooting in the country. The recent reduction of a withholding tax levied on foreigners working in the DR from 27% to just 1.5% has attracted even more productions to the country since last year. Arriola hopes to tap these incentives and also lobby to make them even more generous.
Now based in Southern California, Arriola’s real estate holdings include real estate developments in the U.S. and other countries. He’s also the owner of a regenerative medical center called Gentera LLC, in Miami which specializes in stem cell therapy.