The Walt Disney Company announced Thursday that it is scrapping plans to build a new campus in central Florida and relocate 2,000 employees to Southern California to work in digital technology, finance and product development.
The decision comes a year after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and local congressmen came under attack after the company opposed a state law that prohibits lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms from the first school years. Disney filed a lawsuit last month against DeSantis and other executives for violating the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Disney had plans to build the complex about 20 miles (30 km) from the massive Walt Disney World amusement park complex, but Josh D’Amaro, president of the parks, experiences and products division, said in a memo sent to employees that “new leadership and The company abandoned those plans due to “changing business conditions”.
“I am optimistic about the direction of our Walt Disney World business,” said D’Amaro. “We plan to invest $17,000 million and create 13,000 jobs in the next 10 years. I hope we can do it.”
Disney and DeSantis have been locked in a feud for more than a year that has drawn criticism from the Republican governor, who is preparing to launch a presidential bid in the coming weeks.
DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern said the state had been uncertain about the arrival of the new Disney campus since it was announced nearly two years ago.
“Given the company’s financial troubles, declining market capitalization and declining share prices, it is not surprising that they are restructuring their business operations and canceling unsuccessful projects,” Redfern said.
Florida Senator Joe Gruters, former chairman of the state Republican Party, said Disney’s decision was a big loss.
“I am hopeful that we can put this conflict behind us and return to a more normal working relationship with a company that has been one of our best business and tourism partners for the last 50 years,” Gruters said. “Two thousand jobs and a billion dollars in investment in our state, I would say it is a blow. The market knows how to deal with companies better than the heavy handed government.
For her part, Democratic Representative Anna Escamani, who represents the Orlando area in the Florida House, released a statement blaming the governor for the lost jobs.
Escamani said, “Governor Ron DeSantis is a job-killing moron who cares more about his political ambitions and culture wars than Florida and our future.” “According to him, ‘waking up bankrupts you’, but this is another example of how the opposite is actually the case. DeSantis is not someone you want for president, always,” he said.