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Walt Disney Co. to get $580-million tax break for moving California jobs to Florida

The Alameda Avenue entrance to Walt Disney Co.
Walt Disney Co., headquartered in Burbank, expects to get a $580-million tax break for moving 2,000 California jobs to Florida.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Walt Disney Co. expects to receive nearly $580 million in tax credits for moving about 2,000 California jobs to Florida.

The Burbank-based media giant applied for and was approved to receive an estimated $578 million in credits from the state of Florida over the next 19 years, according to documents obtained from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The credits are for building and operating a regional campus near Lake Nona to house the roughly 2,000 workers.

The tax credit application was submitted Dec. 26, 2019, and approved Feb. 10, 2020, according to documents viewed by The Times. Disney announced the plan to move 2,000 California jobs to Florida last week. The company described Florida as having a “business friendly climate” and said the new facility would help consolidate operations and promote collaboration among staff.

The approval of the tax credit was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

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In a statement, Disney said it was “utilizing an existing incentive offered by the state of Florida in the development of the new regional hub where we will be bringing more than 2,000 professional roles to central Florida and making a sizable investment in this community where we have a long standing presence and commitment.”

According to the tax credit application, Disney plans to invest about $240 million in building the 300,000-to-400,000-square-foot facility and an additional $624 million in office equipment, computers, furniture and other expenses over the next three years. The average wage of the workers in the facility will be $120,000 per year, the application says.

The 2,000 positions that will be relocated from Burbank and Glendale offices represent less than 5% of Disney’s total staff in California, according to Disney officials. Relocating employees will be offered moving assistance, Disney officials said. The move will take place over the next 18 months, they said.

The positions that will be moved to the Lake Nona campus include jobs in digital technology, finance, communications, human resources and product development, Disney officials said. Most of the Glendale-based Imagineers — the staff who design theme park attractions — will be moved to the Florida campus, Disney officials said.

Disney said in the application that it had considered building the regional campus in the Burbank-Glendale area, New York City and Bristol, Conn., but the company’s decision to move to Florida was influenced by the state incentives, affordable housing, low or no state income taxes and “excellent schools that are not at capacity, proper commuter roads and transportation services, etc.”

Still, the application said Disney recognizes that the move could mean losing key executives to competitors and “critical talent unwilling to relocate.”


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