UPDATE 2/12/21: Jimmy Patronis, Chief Financial Officer of Florida, commented during an interview this week on Fox & Friends First that Florida would welcome the relocation of some of the Disney entities to the state. Patronis stated, “Disney already has a proven track record here. We just like to allow them to grow and expand their business.”
An official statement was given by Disney last month regarding the possible relocation of some of the company’s divisions: “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.”
According to an article in the Orlando Business Journal (OBJ), The Walt Disney Company could be considering moving “some of its office divisions from its headquarters in California to Lake Nona, a master-planned community in southeast Orlando.”
The majority of the company’s business offices have been located in California for nearly a century but, according to Jack Witthaus and Richard Bilbao with OBJ, a deal hasn’t been set in stone and it’s unclear which specific divisions or how many people would make the move.
Big-name California companies such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Oracle have announced relocations to Southeastern cities, which have typically been perceived as more business- and tax-friendly locations.
Jeff Sweeney, the managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, said there are “compelling reasons” for Disney to look at relocating some office divisions to Orlando, although it’s reported that he is not involved in the possible upcoming move.
Sweeney also said,
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, a director and industry analyst for CFRA Research, also chimed in to note that if there is a move being considered for some of Disney’s business offices, it would more than likely be just the theme parks division since a substantial number of the company’s theme park operations are already located in Central Florida. Several of Disney’s operations are already well-seated, such as the movies operations in Los Angeles and TV broadcasting in New York.
Amobi also stated that “frustrations with California’s government could be at play. The Covid situation is not under control despite the vaccine’s progress, [but] it’s given investors some hope.”