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Ten ready to kick-off Enterprise City

Premier McKeeva Bush

The multi-million-dollar Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) has announced that by the end of this month, 10 companies will open their doors, kicking off operations in the special economic zone.

The companies will not be quartered in the zone, which is due for groundbreaking sometime between April and June, but instead will open in local George Town office buildings.

In speeches at CEC’s Friday night “launch”, Premier McKeeva Bush and Enterprise City CEO Jason Blick both described their excitement at the economic growth promised by the project, although they appeared to differ on what offices were available.

“The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will bring a multitude of opportunities to Cayman, although it is several months away until the first phase” opens, Mr Bush said, but, meanwhile, “we are getting four office buildings”.

Mr Blick, however, while thanking Cayman authorities for the September passage of the Special Economic Zone Law said ”we have approval for five office buildings while we build,” 1 million square feet of office space in the Savannah-Newlands area.

The buildings include Breezy Castle, which also serves Advanced Automotive near the airport; Grand Pavilion, home to a series of local businesses and banks; Mirco Centre and Baytown Plaza, home to HSBC, which building is owned by the Hon family, one of the original investors in Enterprise City. Gonzalo Jalles, CEO of HSBC, attended the Friday launch.

“The first building,” Mr Bush said, “is now being fitted out for the IT (information technology ) and new media sections, which will enable the first tenants to set up right away  — and that is good news.”

Likely to be completed within 24 months, CEC, he said, promised “economic and educational opportunities, and opportunities for young people if they apply themselves.

“It was just in July 2011 we signed our memorandum of understanding, in September the SEZ Law was passed and in December the SEZ was established,” he said, anticipating “the opportunity for government to bring diversity to our economy”.

That diversification, he said, has been a frequent theme for successive administrations, which have unsuccessfully sought to move away from reliance only on tourism and financial services.

“Already,” he said, CEC “has trained 20 full-time staff, the vast majority of which are Caymanians. That is the kind of result we like to see, and to encourage investors and their investments.

“We are ready to attract the Fortune 500 companies. This is the best jurisdiction to be in. This government stands behind business. Without it and its people, we won’t get anywhere,” he said.

CEO Jason Blick

Mr Blick alluded to his sister Dubai SEZ project, the Multi-Commodities Centre, which, he was told in 1999, could not work because it was “too hot and too foreign.”

“But in 2000,” he said, “companies started to come, and now we have 24,000 people working there, 1,500 in Media City alone. In only six years, we have built 63 skyscrapers and, on average, have signed up 100 companies per month.”

Preparing for the IT industry, Mr Blick said, “We have sat down and talked to IBM, Oracle, Cisco and Johnson & Johnson, and asked them “what can we do to bring you to Cayman?’ We offer innovation, education and research and development.”

Dubai, he said, is built on 300 million square feet. By comparison, CEC, with only 1 million square feet,  “will be tiny”, Mr Blick said, but “SEZs are tried, tested and proved. They work.”

Asked about the difficulties faced by the Dubai economy in the last two years, one CEC spokesman pointed out that 40% of the country’s GDP was generated in the Multi- Commodities Centre.

”We will create a better and brighter future and a centre of excellence and innovation,” Mr Blick finished. “and every Caymanian will have an opportunity to develop themselves. We are creating a foundation for Cayman’s future.”


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