Disney Hurts Florida By Canceling Its Next Big Project
Disney has pulled out of a plan to build a $1 billion office complex in Orlando.
Thanks to its massive theme park, Disney is the largest employer in Florida, boasting about 75,000 employees across the state. They had planned to introduce 2,000 more white-collar jobs by creating a $1 billion office complex in Orlando. However, CNN reports that the studio has canceled its plans to build the complex, citing “changing business conditions” — almost certainly a reference to their ongoing feud with Florida governor Ron Desantis.
This announcement comes after Disney had asked thousands of its employees, including staff members and Imagineers, to commit to moving to Florida. The memo, sent out by Walt Disney chairperson Josh D’Amaro, noted that some of its employees had already moved to the state in anticipation of the new Orlando complex’s construction. D’Amaro stated that Disney will work with these employees to determine how best to handle the situation — including moving the employees back to their original homes.
Disney is in the middle of a lawsuit against Florida, claiming that the state has retaliated against the company for speaking out against Governor Ron Desantis’s agenda, which they described as anti-LGBTQ. Disney claims that the state illegally made changes to an agreement between the company and the state of Florida regarding the districts in which Walt Disney World resides. This agreement allowed Disney to have an unprecedented amount of self-governance in the area.
The original agreement struck between Disney and the state of Florida in 1967 allowed the company to have its own police and fire departments, along with its own water and sewage systems. Disney was also allowed to levy its own taxes and take charge of its own road and infrastructure maintenance.
Following Disney’s statement against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, Governor DeSantis created a hand-picked board that he put in charge of the district. Disney CEO Bob Iger has called this move “anti-business,” and has stated that the move has made the company reconsider its planned $17 billion investment in Florida.
Desantis has chosen to paint this Disney’s decision in a different light. A spokesperson for the Florida governor mentioned that Disney’s stock price has been falling and that it is currently in a difficult financial situation. These comments do have some merit, seeing as Disney announced that it is firing 7,000 employees in order to cut costs — a move that appears entirely unrelated to the fight against the government of Florida.
The Mayor of Orange County, which contains Orlando, sided with Disney on the issue. After Disney announced that they would not be creating a new office complex in the area, Mayor Jerry L. Demings said that this was the direct result of Florida’s government not having an “inclusive and collaborative work environment” with businesses in the area. Demings stated that he hopes the City of Orlando can continue to work with Disney in the future.
The battle between Disney and the Florida government is likely to continue through the foreseeable future, as Governor Desantis has shown no sign of backing down in his crusade against the House of Mouse.