Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ office slammed Disney on Thursday after the company announced that it was not going to build a billion dollar office complex because of “changing business conditions,” releasing a statement that Disney had announced the project a long time ago and “nothing ever came of it.”
Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chairman, announced that the company was pulling the plug on the $1.3 billion Lake Nona Town Center, for which the company was going to relocate approximately 2,000 jobs from liberal Southern California to Orlando, Florida.
“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 wrote in an email to employees. “This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one.”
The company had become enraged after the 44-year-old governor stripped it of its control over a special tax district that was created in the 1960s that allowed the company to enjoy special benefits that no other company in the state had.
“Disney announced the possibility of a Lake Nona campus nearly two years ago. Nothing ever came of the project, and the state was unsure whether it would come to fruition,” said DeSantis’ press secretary Jeremy Redfern. “Given the company’s financial straits, falling market cap and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures.”
Disney has already laid off 4,000 employees in recent months and has plans to lay off thousands more in the coming months due to the company’s financial struggles.
Disney has sued the state of Florida, claiming that they are the victims of “a targeted campaign of government retaliation,” and Disney CEO Bob Iger implied during a recent earnings call that the company may retaliate in response to its feud with the governor by withholding development plans in the state, asking, “Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?”
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D’Amaro said later on in his statement, however, that the company still has plans to invest $17 billion in Walt Disney World and create 13,000 jobs there over the next decade.
While some Republicans have tried to attack DeSantis over his battle with Disney, the company is not popular with Republican voters, according to recent polling on the topic.
I want to put Disney's unpopularity with Republicans in perspective:
64% of Republicans view Disney negatively.
Those are Liz Cheney numbers. pic.twitter.com/kOO0ETU1DC
— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) May 18, 2023
(Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids entertainment content.)