By Dawn Chimielewski and Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Walt Disney Company is canceling plans to move 2,000 jobs to Florida, partly due to “changes in business conditions” in the state, said an employee letter obtained by Reuters on Thursday. revealed in an email.
The announcement comes amid a growing legal battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the entertainment giant.
Disney parks director Josh D’Amaro said due to “management changes” and “changes in business conditions,” Disney will move its employees, including Imagineers, who design theme park rides, to a new campus in Lake Nona. He said that he would reconsider the plan for 2021.
The initial decision to move employees from California to Florida sparked complaints from many employees who did not want to move across the country.
“Given the significant changes that have taken place since the announcement of this project, including a new leadership and a change in the management situation, we have decided not to proceed with the construction of the campus,” D’Amaro wrote. “This was not an easy decision, but I believe it was the right one.”
D’Amaro also addressed the situation of employees who have already relocated. “For those who have already moved, we will explain the situation individually, including the possibility of moving.”
Disney and DeSantis split in March 2022 after Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek criticized a Florida bill that would limit discussion of gender identity and sexuality in elementary schools. We are caught up in an increasingly fierce battle that has begun.
DeSantis is expected to soon announce his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, before moving to strip Disney of its longstanding autonomy over Walt Disney World in Orlando. The governor argued that “Disney Awakened” should not receive special treatment in the state.
Disney called the move a political retaliation against free speech defenders and sued the state last month to overturn the move.
A week ago, Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a call with investors about its quarterly results that the company employs more than 75,000 people in Florida and adds millions to Disney World each year. It is attracting millions of tourists and plans to invest $17 billion in expanding Disney World, he said. A resort for the next decade.
“I’d like to finish with one last question,” Mr. Iger said by phone. “Does the country want us to invest more, hire more people, pay more taxes?”
Iger’s predecessor announced plans in July 2021 to move jobs from Southern California to a new facility in central Florida, citing a “business-friendly climate.” Disney didn’t disclose how much it invested, but the Los Angeles Times reported that it will receive nearly $580 million in tax credits over the next 19 years.
“I remain optimistic about the direction of Walt Disney World’s business,” D’Amaro wrote. It plans to invest $17 billion over the next 10 years and create 13,000 jobs. I hope you can. “
(Reporting by Dawn Chimielewski and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler)