Expert: Lake Nona still primed for success even with loss of Disney campus

Expert: Lake Nona still primed for success even with loss of Disney campus

One of the biggest job relocation projects that failed to materialize in the area was the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) $1 billion Lake Nona Campus. But that doesn't indicate that the growth is going to stop.

Due to several factors.

The move to Florida would have generated $570 million in economic incentives for the company, including at least 100 local jobs.

What this means: This is one of the largest economic development projects that has never been realized in Orlando's past.

Sean Snaith of the University of Central Florida Institute for Economic Forecasting told Orlando Business Journal that the region's short-term future will be dominated by questions about what happens next for Disney's large property. This includes if a new buyer may come in. Orlando Business Journal reported that Lake Nona developer Tavistock Development could have some influence over the future of this property.

Snaith stated that "growth continues and will continue" in the area. He credits the growth to the basics, like the presence of Medical City - the 650 acre life sciences district that is anchored by UCF College of Medicine.

There is also a continued investment in health care. AdventHealth plans to build a 120-bed facility this year. The University of Central Florida will move its College of Nursing from the main campus to a new 90,000 square-foot building.

Other successes in Lake Nona are the 109,000-square foot headquarters of Simcom International Corp., which is slated to open this year, bringing 50 new jobs. Fountain Life, based in Naples, plans to relocate its headquarters in the area. KPMG also plans to add 650 additional jobs in Orlando, including Lake Nona, over a two-year period.

Snaith said that Disney's Lake Nona departure now comes at an ideal time for theme park company, as it reduces some costs and headcount in certain areas. "There was not a single brick yet laid, so it made the decision easy."

Disney wasn't the only company to have a Lake Nona expansion plan that didn't go through, or had to be changed. Here are some examples:

Sanford Burnham's Florida campus

Sanford Burnham was awarded $155 million by the state in 2006 to encourage its expansion into Florida. This included matching funds from Orange County, Orlando, and Lake Nona Land Co. which brought the total incentive to approximately $300 million.

The Institute promised to create at least 303 jobs in its 10th year. In its 10th year, the institute created 87% the number of jobs it promised despite challenges in securing grant funding.

Sanford Burnham finally got approval from the state to vacate and return $12.3 Million in state funds.

In 2018, the University of Central Florida took over and made changes that helped it become the UCF Lake Nona Center for Cancer Research and Treatment.

Amicus Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq : FOLD).

In 2018, the biotech company said that it would build a 200.700-square foot facility by December 31, 2024. This would have created 361 jobs with an average wage of $69.670. Later, the building was reduced to a 30,000 to 50,000 square-foot facility with 100 jobs.

The city of Orlando offered $380,000 in incentives and the state provided $240,000.

Amicus Biologics Inc. is an entity that is connected to Amicus Therapeutics. In October 2022, Amicus Biologics Inc. returned 5.2 acres of land to Lake Nona Land Co. The property is vacant.


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