Florida again ranked second for business, but Disney dustup didn’t go unnoticed

by | May 2, 2022

Florida has the second best business environment in the nation, according to Chief Executive magazine, though the recent dustup with Disney World has industry observers watching Governor Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers more closely. The Sunshine State has long held the second spot, with Texas still undefeated as the top state since the survey began in 2001. Of note, the magazine made it clear that its survey had already been completed before the high-profile showdown with Disney occured.

All 50 states are ranked on a variety of categories, from taxation to regulatory environment, education, quality of life and population growth, to name a few. Florida has consistently outpaced all but Texas over the last decade.

But in a rare departure from the typically glowing annual review, the magazine noted the actions by DeSantis and state lawmakers to strip Disney of its special district status has business leaders wary:

Yet, DeSantis’s high-profile battle with Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek over references to sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida’s elementary school curriculum, labeled “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents (which came to a head after this year’s Best & Worst States polling was conducted), threatens one of the coziest relationships between a state and a big company anywhere in the country.

Will the battle raise alarms with other CEOs who’ve come to count on Florida as a home for their companies? That’s going to be an open question in the months to come—though likely more for high-profile Fortune 500 CEOs such as Chapek, under increasing pressure by progressives and conservatives alike to take stands on social issues, than for CEOs of mid-market manufacturing and service companies, who still make most of the siting decisions in this country. If history is a guide, they may not take as much notice of the extended political theatrics by DeSantis, who is said to have presidential aspirations.

As an indicator of just how concerned business leaders are, the magazine devoted a substantial portion of its lead article to Florida’s battle with Disney. Even the subheadline raised concerns: “Based on polling of nearly 700 CEOs and business owners, the Lone Star State placed No. 1 again, Florida No. 2. But will changing politics change the game?” the article asked.

This year the rankings noted several major business investments in Florida over the past 12 months, including  IT consulting firm Synergy Technologies adding 300 new jobs in Jacksonville, Scotlynn USA opening a new U.S. headquarters in Fort Myers, Pfizer announcing plans in February 2021 to open a global capacity hub in Tampa, KPMG doubling its investment in its Orlando operations along with 350 additional jobs in May of last year. Also, InnovaCare moved its headquarters from New York to Orlando in July 2021, Grant Thornton established a center of excellence and created 60 new jobs in Orlando in July 2021, Terran Orbital announced in September 2021 a $300 million investment and 2,100 new jobs at its Commercial Spacecraft and Constellation Facility in Merritt Island.

Overall, the Sunshine State is still well positioned to retain its overall status as a top business destination, but business executives are closely watching to see how the political landscape could impact business operations for more companies.


  1. Ralph Carr

    Governor Ron DeSantis, have what many more State ‘leaders’ should have. Governors are responsible to ‘lead’ and maintain their state citizens with a healthy and ‘clean’ mind, heart and ‘soul’. Of course, they won’t do it to each one of the residents; but those with a healthy mind and spirit will; always, appreciate his moral and spiritual values. Values that where ‘set’ by our founding fathers. Thanks to Gov. DeSantis..! May Our mighty God bless him, his family and this State, to keep us away from all these ‘demon servants’ like ‘disney’.

    • Anonymous

      Morals? Attacking a company that supports its workers and the lifestyles of many is morals. Please note the founding fathers never mention god!! Also does SEPARATION OF CHURCH RING A BELL IN THAT HOLLOW SPACE?

      • Anonymous

        What state are you from

    • Anonymous

      Morals? DeSantass? I think he has the morals of a snake. To me he’s the next Adolph, stating he’s making all these laws and changes for the betterment of the people of Florida. You may think he’s doing it for you but he’s not. Adolph made the Germans think he was doing it all for their good but you see where that got us. He’s nothing but a racist, fascist bully. Already business CEOs are questioning this Disney play and so are the county citizens who will probably wind up on the hook tax wise for his temper tantrum. I believe if you checked his wallet he’s carrying many cards he doesn’t want you to know about.

      • Anonymous

        Every time the Libs do not have a leg to stand on they bring up Nazis

      • Anonymous

        You must not care about the kids

    • Rick

      Not everyone in this state are hypocritical right wing Bible thumpers. Desantis has broken a long term relationship bringing billions of dollars to this state. How can any big corporation trust a word from this governor! He should stay out of businesses business! I wish the government could run 1% of how disney is run, we actually may get things down. The right wing has gone crazy, they have lost their minds. Remember you religion isn’t the right one and or the only one! Stop shoving your hypocritical morals on the rest of us. Separation of church and state!!!!!

      • Anonymous

        You must be a lefty Dem in

    • Anonymous

      Lowest in health care. Lowest in education. Highest in segregation gerrymandering and voter suppression. Close to highest in overall tax structure. Not to mention book burning.

  2. Anonymous

    Take it from a hard-core Republican have been for years but after Trump I am no more Republican

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