Disney is canceling a big project worth $1 billion in Central Florida. The project would have brought 2,000 jobs to the area. This decision comes after a disagreement with Governor Ron DeSantis, who has passed laws targeting Disney because the company opposed one of his policies.
Disney’s executive, Josh D’Amaro, sent an email to employees explaining that the project, called the Lake Nona Town Center, has been officially canceled.
“Given the considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project, including new leadership and changing business conditions, we have decided not to move forward with construction of the campus,” D’Amaro said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one. As a result, we will no longer be asking our employees to relocate.”
The dispute between Disney and Governor DeSantis played a significant role in canceling the Lake Nona project. DeSantis’ office claims that market forces were the main reason for the cancellation, emphasizing that the project had been uncertain from the beginning.
This cancellation is a significant setback for the economy of Central Florida. The jobs that were supposed to move to Florida included highly-paid designers for Disney’s theme parks, known as Imagineers.
The feud between DeSantis and Disney started when the company opposed a law called HB 1557, which critics nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. DeSantis took action against Disney’s self-governing status and gained control over the special district that oversees Disney’s properties in Central Florida.
Before the law went into effect, Disney managed to secure two contractual agreements that allowed them to bypass state oversight. DeSantis responded by initiating an investigation and passing legislation to invalidate those agreements. He also put Disney’s monorail system under the state’s inspection.
An oversight board appointed by DeSantis also voted to nullify Disney’s actions, leading to a lawsuit from the company. Disney accuses DeSantis of retaliating against them and violating their constitutional rights.
Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, has publicly criticized the state’s actions against the company.
“Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?” Iger said on an earnings call last week.
Despite the cancellation, Disney still has $17 billion planned for investments in Disney World over the next ten years, which would create around 13,000 jobs.
DeSantis’ opponents, including former President Donald Trump, seized the opportunity to criticize him, claiming that he caused Florida to lose a significant investment and jobs due to his actions against Disney.”
Today, Ron DeSantis single-handedly lost the state of Florida nearly $1 billion in investment and over 2,000 jobs — with an average salary of $120,000 — because he was too weak to fight for his state,” the campaign wrote in an email blast. “Ron DeSantis’ failed war on Disney has done little for his limping shadow campaign, and now is doing even less for Florida’s economy.