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Robert Trigaux

Disney reminds Florida: We generate 2.5 percent of your gross domestic product



megcroftondisney.Wake up and good morning. Holy Economic Juggernaut. A new report says Walt Disney World and its related businesses in Florida generate an estimated $18.2 billion a year in economic activity, are responsible for more than one of every 50 jobs in the state and account for 2.5 percent of Florida's cumulative gross domestic product. So says an impact study paid for by the giant resort that finds Disney's theme-park operations in the state — including Disney World, Disney Cruise Line and its Disney Vacation Club time-share business. The details appears in this Orlando Sentinel story.

Disney World President Meg Crofton (photo, above) presented the hefty numbers at a Disney-organized breakfast in the Orlando Museum of Art to local government, business and civic leaders. Why Disney delivered its muscular report is not clear but the message sure is. Disney, which opened in Florida 40 years ago in the fall of 1971, is powerful, influential and an economic force the state should be glad to have within its borders.

According to the Sentinel, Disney hired Arduin, Laffer & Moore, a Republican consulting firm, to produce the report. Its partners include a budget director to former Gov. Jeb Bush (Donna Arduin), an economic adviser to former President Ronald Reagan (Arthur Laffer of "supply side" economic fame), and the founder of the conservative Club for Growth political group (Stephen Moore). The firm examined data from Disney's 2009 fiscal year, which ended Oct. 3, 2009.

disneyart_of_animation_resort.jpgThe researchers found that Disney paid out nearly $1.8 billion in compensation to more than 59,000 workers in 2009. That equates to an average annual salary of approximately $30,508. Disney said it sees plenty more growth potential in Florida.

Among future plans, Disney pointed to construction of Disney's Art of Animation Resort (show, above, opening September 2012). It's a roughly 2,000-room hotel scheduled to open next year in Disney World, in which more than half the rooms will be suites with space for as many as six people for larger families.

Not on Disney's future expansion list? Another theme park. Its last one opened in 1998.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times

[Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011 7:32am]


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