The Walt Disney Company Reportedly Considering Moving Some Divisions to Lake Nona, Florida
For nearly a century, The Walt Disney Company has been primarily based in California. But according to a new report from the Orlando Business Journal, things could be changing soon, as the company is reportedly considering moving a number of its divisions to Florida.
Jack Witthaus and Richard Bilbao write that Disney could be relocating part of its company to Lake Nona, a master-planned community in southeastern Orlando. The move comes as a number of companies, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, have announced relocations to southeastern states, which have a tendency to be more tax-friendly and supportive toward businesses. Reportedly, Disney hasn’t signed any deal with the community, and it’s unsure which divisions or how people would make the move.
Recently, Disney has had open struggles with California, particularly with regard to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, which have kept the parks of the Disneyland Resort closed since March. Meanwhile, Florida’s guidelines have allowed Walt Disney World’s parks to be open since July.
A spokesperson for Disney told Witthaus and Bilbao, “as the largest employer in Central Florida, we are always exploring opportunities for additional locations within the vicinity of our theme park, but there is nothing concrete.” Lake Nona developer Tavistock Development Co. didn’t comment on the story.
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Jeff Sweeney, a managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, who isn’t involved in the possible move, said that Disney has “compelling reasons” to move more of its divisions to Orlando, saying, “we’ve seen time and time again in last 12 months corporations leaving California for other markets that are business-friendly. You look at what happened to the [theme] parks in California versus Florida. That’s a big financial impact on the organization, coupled with the cost of operations and personal income tax for employees in addition to other California regulations.”
Tuna Amobi, director and industry analyst for CFRA Research, added that it’s unlikely to be a complete relocation, especially with its film and television production already rooted in Los Angeles and New York. More likely, it would be the theme park divisions to move, likely additional support and operations departments, with much of it already in Central Florida. Amobi also expressed a lack of surprise about the rumor, saying, “The Covid situation is not under control despite the vaccine’s progress, [but] it’s given investors some hope.”
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