PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- - Having recruited and invested nearly $50 million in Digital Domain, city leaders in Port St. Lucie on Friday tried to figure out what led the company to get rid of nearly all of its local employees.
The mayor, city council members and the city manager spoke out at a news conference Friday outside council chambers claiming they knew nothing about the mass layoff of 280 Digital Domain employees.
"It's always sunny in Port Saint Lucie but today, we may have a few clouds," said Greg Oravec, city manager.
Oravec painted a gloomy economic forecast for the city when reacting to the round of layoffs at Digital Domain Media Group. City leaders called the move a hurtful blow to the community and the economy.
"To me it is the digital equivalent of a Bernie Madoff because there was so many people involved in vetting this process and vetting this company," said Michelle Lee Berge, a council member.
Orevac said if Digital Domain defaults on its lease, Port Saint Lucie is on the line for a $3.8 million payment in January 2013.
"We had no representation that I know of, that any of this was going on that any issue that they were going to closing their doors," said Shannon Martin, a city council member.
When questioned about the future of the building the city paid for that was built specifically as an animation studio, Orevac had no idea but said the layoffs make him leery of investing in companies so specific to an industry.
"I mean we were marketing this, we had schools promoting this. Students were excited about this. It was big for the city of Port Saint Lucie," said Mayor Joann Faiella.
The 280 employees banked on a future with Digital Domain. City leaders pledge on Friday they will do their best to reach out and get as many employees as it can back on their feet.
Digital Domain sent out a press release stating it laid off 280 employees to reduce overhead and restructure the company.
Phone calls to the company for interview requests were not returned.