the walt disney company canceled its plans to open a new Florida campus that would relocate about 2,000 employees to the state, a change that comes as the company engaged a long fight With the state's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.
In July 2021, the company said it planned to relocate employees, including many theme park designers (known as Imagineers) and consumer products workers, to the Orlando community of Lake Nona with approximately $570 million in tax breaks. The new offices are in place to avail the million.
Josh D'Amaro, president of Disney's Parks, Experiences and Products division, said in an email to employees on Thursday that the relocation is no longer happening, citing “new leadership and changing business conditions.”
“Given the many 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. “This was not an easy decision, but I believe it is the right one. As a result, we will no longer be asking our employees to relocate.”
While some workers have already moved to Central Florida, the plan faced considerable pushback from other workers, especially as the political climate in the state became openly hostile. Disney and DeSantis Passed legislation that many see as anti-LGBTQ+.
“For those who have already moved, we will speak with you individually about your situation, including the possibility of moving you back,” D'Amaro wrote.
The planned move was the source of significant animosity towards then chief executive Bob Chapek. Chapek was fired by Disney's board of directors in November.replacing him with the previous longtime leader of the Burbank entertainment giant, Bob Iger.
For more than a year, Disney has been at loggerheads with DeSantis over the company's opposition to a state law that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Disney recently on DeSantis”government vendettato deprive the company of its exclusive privileges in the district that includes Walt Disney World. DeSantis earlier this year elected a new board for the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, which Disney previously essentially turned into its own municipality. was controlled by the government.
Disney overrode DeSantis' incoming board by signing new development deals with the outgoing government body, which significantly limited the power of the new group. The DeSantis-backed board voted last month to invalidate the agreements, prompting Disney to sue in federal court.
“I am optimistic about the direction of our Walt Disney World business,” D'Amaro said in the email. “We have plans to invest $17 billion and create 13,000 jobs over the next ten years. I hope we are able to do that.”
When the campus was first announced, the move was expected to take 18 months, the company said at the time. But the project faced delays. In June 2022, Disney said the new offices were take longer to finish More than expected, Disney has projected an opening date of 2026, which roughly represents a three-year holdup.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times,