Cayman Enterprise City looks to diversify economy

After months of waiting, the ink has finally been put to an agreement with the Cayman Islands Government to create Cayman Enterprise City.  

With a definitive agreement with the government signed on 18 July, Cayman Enterprise City Ltd. is moving forward on a plan it says will diversify and stimulate Cayman’s economy, making it sustainable in the long term. 

Before the knowledge-based special economic zone can become operational, a host of laws needs to be amended, including the Companies Law, the Local Companies Control Law, the Trade and Business Licensing Law, the Immigration Law, the Patents and Trade Marks Law and the Customs Tariff Law. 

When operational, Cayman Enterprise City will consist of five elements – Cayman Internet Park, Cayman Media Park, Cayman Biotech Park, Cayman Commodities Park and Cayman International Academic Park – in a 500,000 square-foot, low-rise campus on Grand Cayman. 

It is estimated the developer would make a total investment of $327 million and that the project would contribute $500,000,000 per annum to Cayman’s gross domestic product. 

Construction phase  

Based on a KPMG economic impact study, the Cayman Enterprise City project will create 800 jobs in its first year, during the construction phase. 

Hilary McKenzie-Cahill, the company’s vice president marketing and business development, said for Cayman Enterprise City had already started hiring locally to expand its headquarters staff. 

“Over the coming months as the project progresses through the permitting phase and into its active operational phase, we will be increasing our local HQ workforce,” she said.  

Project architect and partner Cindy O’Hara said that the design and development team – which also includes Russell Linford as head of construction – had already met with other local architects and interior designers. 

“It’s been the vision from the beginning to utilise the most local expertise as possible, everything from consultants to contractors,” she said, adding that when a certain needed function isn’t available locally, there will still be a requirement that a local company be used to engage overseas entities and consultants.  

McKenzie-Cahill said in September O’Hara and Linford would start an outreach to construction companies and workers and inviting them to group meetings to learn about all the opportunities and vacancies. 

“They will be looking for every type of construction worker including (mechanical engineers, electricians and plumbers) engineers, building trades – roofers, masons, framers, steel workers, block layers, wallers, carpenters, concrete workers, landscapers – and professionals – structural engineers, project managers, quantity surveyors,” she said.  

“We envisage this being a fairly long process with several group meetings as there are so many different types of  workers needed.”  

McKenzie-Cahill said a new section will be added to the company website that will enable Caymanian workers to register their interest.  

“I hope to add an area where we can actually list the job vacancies and skills needed,” she said. 

 

Economy stimulation  

In the long term, the KPMG economic impact study estimates Cayman Enterprise City creating 9,800 jobs, 5,000 of which would be in the zone itself, with the remainder being jobs created indirectly. 

“The zone will be attracting ICT, media, telecommunications and biotech firms, so the jobs to be created will be within those specific industries,” McKenzie-Cahill said of the jobs created inside Cayman Enterprise City.  

“There will be everything from media specialists – journalists, publishers, print production people, graphic designers, animators, script writers, editors, new media developers, media consultants, marketing consultants, international media planners, Social Media experts, to technology specialists – software developers, technologists, hardware integrators and network specialists “app” developers, search engine optimization specialists, website developers, social media site developers – and biotechnology specialists, and so on.”  

In total, there will be 120 different types of jobs created in the zone, McKenzie-Cahill said. 

The jobs created indirectly outside of the zone will across a wide sector of the economy. 

“These will be jobs with Caymanian companies that will be providing services to firms within the zone,” McKenzie-Cahill said. “Each company locating in the zone will need moving services, legal services, accounting services, corporate management services, possibly immigration advisory services.” 

The companies will also need corporate vehicles, office furniture, supplies and machinery, and pension and health insurance services, McKenzie-Cahill said. 

The individuals working in the zone will also have personal needs. 

“They will need homes to rent and purchase, boosting the real estate companies,” McKenzie-Cahill said. “They will needs cars… boosting the local car dealerships. They will need to purchase groceries, housewares, DIY supplies for their condos and homes, gardening supplies etc. They will eat at restaurants, join health clubs, go to spas and hairdressers, need clothing and supplies in fact everything one needs for living and working on island.”  

 

Jobs and careers for Caymanians  

Although the companies in the zones are expected to initially bring in high-end experts and qualified staff to fill the technical and industry-specific jobs, there will be jobs for Caymanians, McKenzie-Cahill said. 

“Initially… the jobs for Caymanians will be in the specialized roles for which they have been trained in Cayman,” she said. “These would include jobs such as accountants, accounting and payroll clerks, HR managers and HR administrators, auditors, secretaries, administrators, receptionists, marketing staff in various roles, operations staff, and IT support staff. Of course they will also need delivery people, cleaning and janitorial staff and so on.” 

Long term, the Cayman International Academic Park – one of five special economic zones elements of Cayman Enterprise City – is expected to train Caymanians to get the qualifications necessary to fill the higher end and more technical positions within the zone. McKenzie-Cahill said in Dubai a similar Academic Park called Knowledge Village was launched about eight years ago because government leaders recognised that the local population did not have the skill set or educational qualifications to fill the more technical positions within the special economic zones there.  

“The object of this was to offer courses specifically based on the technical skills required by the international brands within the zone,” she said. “This strategy worked extremely well and now a very high percentage of jobs within the zone are filled with local, qualified and skilled Emirate nationals. This is our intention in Cayman. It won’t happen overnight, but we are actively working towards that goal and are in the process of short listing five universities as key partners.” 

 

Timeline  

O’Hara said a site for the project had not been selected yet. 

“We’ve narrowed it down to two sites,” she said, adding that a site needed to be determined by mid-August because the timeline called for a project application to be submitted to the Planning Department by the beginning of September. 

The timeline also calls for construction to start in the first quarter of 2012. 

O’Hara said that initially, somewhere between 10,000 

– and 20,000-square-feet of office space in two to three “gateway buildings” will be constructed with the idea of getting some of Cayman Enterprise City up and running very quickly.  

Instead of building large buildings, the Cayman Enterprise City model calls for a series of smaller buildings. 

“This will give us a faster track in the construction cycle,” O’Hara said, adding that it will also allow Cayman Enterprise City to engage smaller contractors. This would enable multiple construction teams to be on site, allowing many of Cayman’s contractors to get involved. 

cayman ayman Enterprise City agreement-DB

Premier McKeeva Bush, left, and Cayman Enterprise City CEO Jason Blick shake hands after signing the definitive agreement Monday for the establishment of a knowledge–based special economic zone on Grand Cayman as other members of the government and developer’s team look on.

cayman Cayman Enterprise City MOU Darrel Hon Barry Hon Premier Bush

Premier McKeeva Bush, right, shakes hands with developer Barry Hon after the two signed a Memorandum of Understanding in January concerning the establishment of Cayman Enterprise City, a special economic zone focused on knowledge-based industries and intellectual property. Standing next to Mr. Hon is his son Darrell, the vice-president of Cayman Enterprise City.

JN Story

A rendering of the main pedestrian boulevard at Cayman Enterprise City.

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