Florida Gov. DeSantis responds to Disney’s cancelation of Lake Nona project

UCF economics expert says decision won’t have huge impact on Lake Nona’s economy

Nearly 24 hours after Disney made the announcement that the company is pulling out of plans for Lake Nona, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded.

While in New Hampshire Friday, the governor said, “To put one corporation on a pedestal and let them be exempt from the laws? It’s not good policy. It’s not free-market economics. And it’s not something our state is going to be involved in, and so we will not change from that. And so they can do whatever they want. I know people try to chirp and say this or that — the chance of us backing down from that is zero.”

Disney did not give a specific reason for the decision to cancel the $1 billion investment plan for Lake Nona, instead releasing a statement that reads in part, “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 with construction of the campus.”

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Back in 2021 under the leadership of former CEO Bob Chapek, Disney announced it would build a corporate office complex off Lake Nona Boulevard, bringing 2,000 Disney workers from California to the Central Florida area.

However, now-CEO Robert Iger was reportedly much less optimistic about the project, telling other employees upon his return to Disney that it made little sense to move Imagineering so far away from Disney’s movie studios, according to The New York Times.

The cancelation comes as Iger reverses many of Chapek’s decisions as part of a reconfiguration project to cut back on costs as the company struggles with dwindling stock prices.

Sean Snaith, the Director of the Institute for Economic Forecasting at University of Central Florida, said, “I think this doesn’t really change the trajectory for the Lake Nona region or Orlando in general.”

Snaith said while the news is big, it might not have a huge overall impact on the Lake Nona economy.

“We still have strong economic growth. We still have very strong population growth,” Snaith said.

He told New 6 that the long game will likely still look the same.

While no one knows what’s going to happen to the 60 acres of land, in terms of who might end up owning it, he said it will likely still see development, and that area will continue to see growth.

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About the Authors:

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined ClickOrlando.com in April 2022.