Disney kills $1 billion development in Florida just days before DeSantis' expected presidential announcement
Disney canceled its plans to move jobs from California to Florida.
The announcement came just days before DeSantis is expected to formally run for president.
It also came after DeSantis signed a slew of anti-trans measures into law.
The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday scrapped its plans to build a nearly $1 billion campus in Florida, just as details leaked about Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' imminent presidential run.
The 2,000 jobs that were headed to Florida will now no longer be leaving Southern California where the entertainment company is headquartered. Disney World is Florida's largest attraction and already employs 75,000 people in the state.
CEO Bob Iger appeared to threaten Florida recently, amid the company's ongoing battle with the governor over who controls the land surrounding Disney World. The fight has grown increasingly bitter and is before the courts.
"One question: Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes — or not?" he asked during the company's second-quarter earnings call.
The decision drew immediate reaction from the Trump campaign, and Steven Cheung, campaign spokesman, noted to Insider that former President Donald Trump predicted Disney's "slow withdrawal" on Truth Social weeks ago. The Trump campaign then circulated an email to reporters outlining Trump's economic policies when he was president.
"Ron DeSanctimonious gets caught in the mouse trap," the Trump campaign tweeted Thursday.
—Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) May 18, 2023
Numerous reports say that DeSantis is going to make a presidential bid official next week, kicking off with a donor event in Miami.
Disney's announcement also came a day after DeSantis signed a slew of anti-transgender rights bills into law that will limit access to healthcare, public restroom usage, and school curriculum.
"Turns out, bigoted policies have consequences," Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who'd urged Disney not to relocate workers from his state to Florida, tweeted.
His office later issued a statement calling Disney's announcement a "victory" for California and company employees who "know they can live in a state where they are respected and safe."
DeSantis and Disney have been locked in a power struggle that began when Disney publicly objected to a Florida law that severely limits teachings about gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools.
DeSantis appointed board members to take over the special tax district Disney enjoys, and proposed new tolls, taxes, and affordable housing, and floated the possibility of building a state prison nearby.
Nikki Fried, who chairs the Florida Democratic Party, said in a statement that she wasn't surprised by the news, blaming DeSantis' "unhinged personal vendetta."
The Wall Street Journal was first to break the news about Disney's latest plans, per an internal email from Josh D'Amaro, Disney's head of Parks, Experiences and Products.
"While some were excited about the new campus, I know that this decision and the circumstances surrounding it have been difficult for others," D'Amaro wrote, according to Journal. "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."
Hundreds of Disney workers who already relocated to Florida will have the option to move back, per the Wall Street Journal.
The email sent Thursday comes as the company has plans to cut more than 7,000 jobs by the summer, and Disney has been under new leadership ever since November. The relocation plans initially happened under former CEO Bob Chapek.
DeSantis' office blamed Disney's financial challenges when asked about the scuttled plans for the Florida campus.
"Disney announced the possibility of a Lake Nona campus nearly two years ago," Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the governor, told Insider. "Nothing ever came of the project, and the state was unsure whether it would come to fruition.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."
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