Disney scrapped its Florida campus plans in a dispute with DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at an event in Smyrna, Georgia, USA on May 8, 2023.

US conglomerate Disney on Thursday canceled plans to build a new campus for employees in central Florida, amid a dispute with the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.

According to a memo from park president Josh D’Amaro, the amusement company can’t move forward with the Lake Nona project due to „significant changes” since the initial announcement, including a „new address and changing business conditions,” according to AFP. .

The plan, first announced in July 2021, was expected to move 2,000 jobs from California to Lake Nona, about 30 kilometers east of the massive Disney World complex in Orlando.

The $800 million-plus project will include workers in digital technology, finance and product development with an average annual salary of $120,000, Orlando business groups said when the announcement was made.

But Disney is embroiled in an intense battle with DeSantis, a rising figure on the American right who is said to be planning to launch his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination next week.

The dispute stems from Disney’s criticism of legislation supported by DeSantis that would ban school lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, where the resort is located, said in a statement that Disney’s decision was „unfortunate.”

„However, these are the consequences when there is not a collaborative and inclusive working environment between the state of Florida and the business community,” Demings said.

„We will continue to work closely with our valued partners at Disney,” he added.

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In February, DeSantis removed Disney’s control over its special autonomous district, allowing the city-wide theme park to operate its own zoning and infrastructure projects, exempt from state regulations.

The governor also floated the idea of ​​building a prison near the park, which employs more than 75,000 people in Florida and is part of a vast tourist attraction that attracts about 50 million people a year.

In response, Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis, claiming it was „retaliatory government propaganda” for Disney’s political positions.

Earlier this week, Disney asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by a DeSantis-coordinated oversight group.

Former Republican President Donald Trump mocked the fight between DeSantis and Disney. In a social media post in April, the company said it would stop investing money in Florida and may even announce a „slow withdrawal.”

The Trump campaign blamed differences between DeSantis and Disney in a statement Thursday for the state’s major investment and loss of lucrative jobs.

„Because (DeSantis) was too weak to fight for this state,” said the communique, who hailed Trump as a „jobs president.”

„DeSantis’ losing battle with Disney did little for his lame campaign, and now he’s doing very little for Florida’s economy,” he added.

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