Groundbreaking nears for CEC
Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) will be having its groundbreaking ceremony in the Savannah of Grand Cayman in March this year, according to Hillary McKenzie-Cahill, Vice President of Marketing & Business Development.
Speaking at the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce BE INFORMED series on Wednesday, 25 January, the VP further noted that CEC was ready to start its operations with six tenants who would be moving into the HSBC building and the Grand Pavilion Commercial Centre.
Ms McKenzie-Cahill further stated that the CEC would be moving to a 45-acre plot with one million square feet of office space within 24 months.
The VP noted that their operations would start immediately at the proposed site and have a direct impact to the economy.
“The 800 jobs that will be created by the zone will immediately go to construction and Cindy O’Hara, our Director of Design and Development has already promised that local labour will be used,” she said.
Ms McKenzie-Cahill also noted that the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) that CEC had created was a genuinely Caymanian-owned company.
With an estimated initial investment of US$327 million in the Cayman Islands over the next eight years, Cayman Enterprise City, recently signed an agreement with Dubai-based Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).
The VP noted that the recent signing with the DMCC was a huge boast, which will help CEC in commodities exchange, with its experience of trading a billion dollars per day.
CEC is expected to create approximately 5,000 jobs within the zone and another 4,800 outside the zone in Cayman’s domestic economy. Ms McKenzie-Cahill defended this oft -used number by saying that it was calculated through correlation to other zones internationally.
However, the CEC has been greeted with skepticism by some members of public who fear that the project will require government infrastructural input, with the public being required to pay more taxes as a result.
Ms McKenzie-Cahill noted that SEZs are World Bank and OECD approved models. “This gives them an extra layer of protection. We are now allowing them to have a physical presence in the Cayman Islands and we have stripped a lot of barriers that prohibited them from doing so in the past and they can now invest in the Cayman Islands,” she said.
This is through various laws that have been enacted by the government to allow the SEZ to operate. The government also introduced a Zone Authority, which will regulate day-to-day operations of the zone.
“Our diverse markets include new sectors that do not now exist in Cayman, such as information technology, media, biotechnology, commodities and derivatives, outsourcing and academia,” she said.
“We are matching all the jobs in the zone to qualified Caymanians. Since they have always prepared for local banks, they have to compete internationally if they are to work for Google,” she said.
She noted that the concessions given by government were to make the SEZs more appealing.
“To start operating in the zone, one needs to set up an exempt zone company, we do the same know your customer information and allow them to operate in 10 days, Ms McKenzie-Cahill noted.
“We are exempt from work permits in the zone. We have what we call zone employment certificates for which CEC paid up to CI$25,000 for the CEO’s employment certificate,” she stated.
The VP also noted that the operators in the CEC will have a zone employment certificate for a flat fee of CI$100.
She noted that the SEZ offered a 20-year exemption from duty on input goods and this was very attractive to companies.
Ms McKenzie-Cahill stated that the Cayman Islands has a zero per cent market share in SEZs and this project alone would have a massive positive impact on Cayman’s economy.
She noted that the CEC was working with venture capitalists around the world to make sure that the next Internet project was in the Cayman Islands.
We are also putting up a $20 million server in the Internet Park, said Ms McKenzie-Cahill.