Techy zone talks to Virgin

| 17/10/2011

(CNS): Cayman Enterprise City has conducted “preliminary meetings” with Virgin Produced to discuss ways in which the company could become involved in Cayman’s new Special Economic Zone due to open next month. Virgin Produced is the film and TV development, packaging and production company within Richard Branson’s Virgin group and was formed in 2010. Its first movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper was released earlier this year. Cayman Enterprise City’sCEO Jason Blick said that Virgin Produced was looking at ways to build a media studio possibly within Cayman Media Park, one of the parks that will make up the new zone.

Blick said CEC met with the company’s creative director, Justin Berfield, and CEO Jason Felts about a month ago and CEC was currently “actively working on a proposal” to present to Virgin Produced.

“We presented CEC as a whole with a particular focus on Cayman Media Park,” Blick told CNS. “The conclusion of the meeting was CEC addresses many of the requirements of the international production and licensing community. We have agreed to issue a proposal to Virgin Produced later this month.”

According to Blick, the company seen Cayman as a base from which to establish an arm of its business for some time because individuals within the management of the company had already built up an affinity with the island through personal visits. Up until this point, the set-up had not been conducive for the media company to establish a presence but the advent of CEC would, Blick said, for the first time make Cayman accessible.

Blick said he was sure the company would be a good fit within the Special Economic Zone: “We feel that CEC’s vision is very much in line with Virgin’s entrepreneurial spirit.”
CEC has plans to bring in around 40 companies, the CEO has stated, and says that half a dozen have already signed up but he has not yet revealed who these potential tenants are. He said one interested group was a company with 18,000 hi tech patents, which he believed was exciting for Cayman.

CEC wants to work with the group to bring the research and development arm of its work to Cayman Enterprise City and that once this particular client was established it would mean a “massive stimulus to the economy” with a substantial amount of job creation for local people in the form of service providers, such as lawyers and accountants, Blick said. The firm’s general counsel and management team were flying into Cayman next week for further discussions, he added.

Current legislative changes, set to take place in November, within Cayman’s immigration and companies laws would need to be in place before such companies would sign on the dotted line, Blick said. If these changes take place as planned, he anticipated having CEC’s first tenants take up residence on the 1 December.

As the actual site of the new development has yet to be officially confirmed, let alone constructed, the first tenants will be taking up residence in rented premises. Blick said that CEC is currently looking at about six different locations.

The two sites currently under consideration for the final CEC location itself are “east of George Town but not as far east as East End,” CEC’s Vice President of Marketing & Business Development Hilary McKenzie-Cahill confirmed.

Architect Cindy O’Hara of Design Cayman has already completed the master plan for the project, which would be the same whichever location CEC finally chooses, she said.
“It needs handling appropriately, which means making house to house calls,” Blick confirmed, suggesting that both sites under contemplation were near to existing built up sites.

Cayman Enterprise City will be comprised of Cayman Commodities Park, Cayman Internet Park, Cayman Biotech Park, Cayman International Academic Park, as well as Cayman Media Park. The five campuses are being developed in three phases and international businesses which establish themselves within the SEZ will benefit from 100% exemption from income, corporate and capital gains taxes, as well as no foreign ownership restrictions, reduced, flat-rate work permit fees and efficient registration and licensing, with protection of intellectual property.

Category: Business

Comments (61)

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  1. Born American, Camanian at heart says:

    This is all jealousy talks, in reality until a project as massive and as complex as CEC has been mentioned across the media and in privatecircles in the Caymans, Virgin did not even bother inquiring about the costs and further arrangements of the production company. Fact!

    If ya'll such smart a**s here why was it not possible to have these big company names like Virgin Produced, Oracle, Microsoft etc  incorporated here already?! Huh?! Short to answer!  Perhaps it is due to your intellectual inability to grasp on the full picture that Caymans are presented here with, all the benefits, social, political economic and other welfares that this project itself presents!

    The reason why nothing gets done here is because of nagging as**s like yourselves who with limited knowledge and information still find the guts to express criticism. This is ridiculous.  

     Ya’ll have no real knowledge or intellectual ability to understand the complexity of this project. Just your negativity and criticism. Perfect to send this island into economic crisis and disarray.

     

    Born American, Camanian at heart

  2. Anonymous says:

    They want to build a media studio….Let me explain how you can do this without CEC. 

    Go to a law firm. Ask how to set up a company.  File appropriate documents with registrar.  Go to a real estate agent.  Purchase land.  Go to a contractor and build.  I am assuming the company already has plans made and do not need architects.  Since the company does not necessarily wish to commence work now.  Start the work permit process.  Mac is allowing for 10 years.  Tada! You have a company with a phsyical presence built to your own specifications, without the middleman of CEC.

    You're welcome Virgin and all other potential investors.  Hmmm maybe I should set up a paypal account for all the investors to pay me a small commission for the free information I just provided…

  3. Anonymous says:

    These 2 guys have been tooling around cayman for quite a while…they were involved in setting up the ci film commission etc…

    http://www.malcolminthemiddle.co.uk/2009/08/18/justin-berfields-cayman-island-film-commission-launches-photos/

     

    • Anonymous says:

      No one is refuting the investor.  The people are refuting the manner in which they are required to invest which is solely through the developer.

      What if they want to partner with other people?  They still have to go through the developer.  That is not the way to facilitate business.  If Cayman is really serious about facilitating business then it should be open for all investors to partner with whomever they wish.  If they even wish to partner with anyone. 

      • Anonymous says:

        This commenter is correct.  Foreign investors don't even need a caymanian partner.  If it is the case that they publish in the paper seeking Caymanian participation of said amount and go through the proper channels aka the law firms who can assist the investors on setting up a business in the Cayman Islands.  That way an SEZ is not needed whatsoever.  The investors can shop around to where they want to rent for their business or if they so wish, purchase property and build their own building.

        Now talking about development the SEZ has effectively blocked the possibility of these foreign investors wishing to build their own building for their own operations.  Please explain how this facilitates the needs of international investors?

        All these barriers that the developers have stated that exist actually do not exist.  It goes to show that a salesperson that has not been on the island very long does not know very much about how business is actually done on the island.  The only thing preventing the companies from coming in is immigration barriers due to the slow processing system and the related costs.  Altering the other requirements of fees to government thereafter aren't that difficult if the government is willing to do it for this one developer, then it should be a piece of cake to open it up to everyone.

  4. Anonymous says:

    We could probably scrap the whole SEZ idea if the work permit system was transparent, ethical, and efficient.

     

  5. Anonymous says:

    Any partnership with Sir Richard Branson owner of Virgin is an excellent idea.  This man is a power house and a magnet for the rich and famous.  Just look at his island in the BVI Necker Island i believe, it attracts the super rich of the world and the BVI is well know for upper classn tourist because of this.  We in Cayman should be rolling out the red carpet for this investors.  It can only be a good thing.  Sir Branson we want and need you here in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman would love to have him.  However the issue that everyone has is not foreign investment.  It is filtering the investment and therefore the bulk of the profits through one developer that has exclusive rights to market the business and receive the profit. 

      Here is a parallel:

      The financial services industry began on a free opportunity for all.

      If the industry was provided exclusivity to a ‘developer’ for some fancy building and filtered through with the approval of the developer solely, then where would they all be housed?  What happens when the demand exceeds the supply of commercial rental property provided by the supplier?  Do they arrange for renting property outside of their designated area and approve that it is still within the zone by having leasing arrangements made through them? 

       

      How would the financial industry grow to the capacity it has now if there were so many restrictions?  The developers are saying that the government has restrictions on attracting the business.  Well that is exactly what these developers have done.  They have imposed restrictions on attracting the business by only allowing the business to be vetted through them.  Are they a government entity?  Only government entities should be allowed to approve or disapprove whether businesses should be allowed to invest in a country, not a foreign investor/developer/salesperson.

       

      To gain public trust, the project should be allowed on an island wide basis.  It should be clarified that anyone resident on island – with a stipulated timeline of residence minimum two years- should be allowed the opportunity to seek business of this nature. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    The article states:

    "100% exemption from income, corporate and capital gains taxes, as well as no foreign ownership restrictions, reduced, flat-rate work permit fees and efficient registration and licensing, with protection of intellectual property."

     

    Cayman allows for most of this. It is not that difficult to alter the laws to facilitate the remaining.  Why is this SEZ necessary?   The immigration and work permit fees are a simple matter of internal policy rather than legislation as the fees are not published in legislation.  Intellectual property is already protected in the cayman islands under some law if not a cayman specific law it would fall under common law. 

    Cayman currently has no income, corporate and capital gains taxes.  Foreign ownership restrictions, oh that is such foolishness.  Everyone knows that it is just on paper,  most 60/40 ownership is just a formality with the foreign investor truly having full ownership. 

    Licencing and registration fine, I'll agree on that one it needs to be streamlined.  But that is about it.  There is no reason for this place to exist.  If need be create a law that says tech, commodity, intellectual property companies only….

     

  7. Anonymous says:

     

    You all need to realize that international business is the future, Cayman will not prosper on it own and the days on the Native Born Cayman only attitude is over. Get on the band wagon and prepare yourselves for the future or Caymanians will go the way of the Native American Indian..

    If there are Caymanian that ant to isolate themselves from the rest of the world, maybe you should all settle on Little Cayman, buy all the land and keep foreigners out, you'll have your own little reservation.

    • Anonymous says:

      The problem people are having is not about native born Caymanians.  It is about how the legislation was written which provides that only said developer is allowed to participate in this business.  All other individuals whether expat or local are not.  That is not something that should be in legislation. 

      Bring on the foreign investment but bring it in to the islands in a manner which investors and residents alike have the opportunity to pick and choose who they want to work with rather than being forced to choose to work with only one set of people.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The government gives exclusive advantages to one foreign developer concessions built into the legislation – for reasons that we can guess at – but in the same legislation mandates a bureaucratic black hole that has not even been created yet that Caymanians must climb out of just to have a hope of getting to the same concessions given to this developer. That is not right but it is typical of this government.

  9. Anonymous says:

    As a japanese visitor to your island last year , i can only commend the Cayman people. Being a hub of international finance has left a profound mark on the culture and worldliness of the folk that I have not found amongst their regional contemporaries. Awareness of how the globe is functioning is a direct result of the international nature of the Cayman Islands and bringing the large players to Grand cayman is something that should be encouraged if only to expose the opportunities that are available to the savvy.

  10. Shock and Awe says:

    I wanted to find out more about the virgin. There was no mention of who it is. CNS?

    • Anonymous says:

      Google Richard Branson or Virgin Mobile or Virgin Galactic……You think Dart has money, geez the man has his own space ship

    • Anonymous says:

      Lookup Richard Branson, He has his own private island…

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Yes I remember him! For those of you who have never heard of him, he was one of the Beatles and he made that song 'Like a virgin'.

      All humor aside – Mr. Branson is one of the smartest entrepreneurs of our time, and if we get him interested in this project, then that will certainly give it a boost.

  11. Anonymous says:

    why is this "news"? that they trying to have talks with Virgin. It makes the news IF something actually comes to fruiton….zzzzzzz

  12. Anonymous says:

    I talk to God every day. He's a great listener.

     

     

  13. Anonymous says:

    Its interesting how we Caymanians complain so much about foreign investment and the concessions made. Don't we know this is the normal way of obtaining business? Isn't it because we started down this road in the 60's why we have all that  we have today? Isn't this choice the reason we hold our heads up high against our neighbors and brag that we are the 5th largest financial centre in the world with 500 banks? (I know those stats are outdated.) That we have a very high standard of living?

    Its also interesting that there is one thing I never hear Caymanians complain about. That is, the nepotism in Immigration. It was the 25th of June 2010 that Mr. Manderson stated that policies would be posted on Immigration's website to better inform people. How many complaints have there been that he has not done so?

    We better start being grateful for what we have, treat people fairly and work hard to get back to where we once were. No foreigner needs us and there are many competitors who will sweeten the pot to take what we do have.

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      The financial industry was an opportunity for everyone.  Foreign investors, expatriates and locals alike.  This opportunity is only for the developer no one else.  There is no comparison here.

      • Anonymous says:

        More complaining. It has ALREADY hired Caymanians and will continue to do so.

        • Anonymous says:

          Not complaining it is stating the truth.  Hiring a few  – four  as per the news reports – is a poor argument.

          Besides, there are many Caymanians/Status Holders/ residents that are quite wealthy that would like to diversify their business investments.  Aside from the commercial property businessmen, there are businessmen which are also interested in marketing for the business. 

          What your reply has effectively said is that Caymanians are only good employees and not employers.  I understand that you are protecting your rights as the developer.  Only the developer would come up with that comment.  But you are no longer home and while you are trying to blind and confuse the politicians that this is the only way to go.  It is not.  You can proceed with your project but competition is needed at the onset.  Besides competition breeds excellence.  If you are so confident that this project will work you should not be afraid of competition.  You already have a head start. 

          • Anonymous says:

            Here are three more truths for you. One, I have nothing to do with the developer / development. Sorry to burst your bubble. Two, its a pity your Caymanians / Status Holders (Who, by the way, are Caymanian) / residents that are quite wealthy didn't come up with the idea. Three, the project is only just starting, and thus cannot employ that many people for the moment. This is quite normal in business and should not need explaining.

            • Anonymous says:

              Locals apparently didn't come up with the idea of the financial industry they weren't afraid of the industry being open to all.  This developer has asked for a restriction on investment through them only. 

              CEC can have their business.  It isn't only their idea.  They should not have a monopoly on something that is being presented as a means to bolster the economy.  If it is really to bolster the entire economy of the Cayman Islands and not just the economy of CEC then it should not be restricted to only them. 

              To encourage the economy means to attract foreign investment.  To do so would mean that any investor should have the right and opportunity to chose who they want to facilitate their business with.  This developer has proposed that no one can invest in these sectors of business unless it is through them.  Do you see how that is not beneficial to the general public?  It is also not beneficial to the investors.  Who will monitor the quality of CEC?  Truly why should anyone monitor them.  What should happen is the free market should regulate itself.  If CEC is a crap entity then the investor can go to another company or another location.  As it is presented if the investor will not be happy with CEC, their only option is to leave the islands.  While it is in the best interests of CEC to be the best there is no guarantee that they will. 

              Cayman is putting its reputation at risk, by putting all its eggs in the CEC basket. 

  14. Anonymous says:

    Saw a similar thing promised in Grand Turk back in 2004/5 and nothing came of it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Dont get too excited there are very many other locations in the world with these benefits-and more on offer.

    They are better located,cheaper,safer and with less red tape.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Then go! Cause these 'developers' are nothing more than high end sales people.

       

      I can't imagine any other government in the world providing such concessions to a foreign investor exclusively without allowing the resident population whether local or expatriate the opportunity to benefit.

      • Frodo says:

        If that is the case you need to go out and do some research my friend, as this happenss all over the world everyday by governments who are chasing investment. They realise the long term benefits outweigh initial concessions – something which many people on here have a hard time comprehending. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Does it really happen all over the world that some foreign/investor developer gets all the profits exclusively. Completely shutting out the opportunity for anyone else besides them the rights to be involved other than through them? 

          I think not.

          SEZs exist elsewhere where the investor has the sweatshop and they are entitled to their profits, butthey do have other sweatshops that exist.  More sweatshops are allowed to come in and they can compete against each other.  This project is saying that only the developer can decide who comes in and the developer is the only one that can market the business.

        • Anonymous says:

          Long term benefits is understood.  Providing exclusive rights to one set of people rather than having many people chasing the investment is what does not make sense. 

          Rather than only one developer scrambling for the business why not have anyone who wishes to venture into this business the privilege of participating.  That means foreign investors themselves can take it upon themselves to come to Cayman without having to pay anyone (it seems) to set up shop.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is true!  There is China, South America, Eastern Europe etc. 

      Wait….they exist there….it is just in the industrialised sector….Wait…it failed in Eastern Europe….oh and it did also in a few other locations….Hmmmmm SEZ is not the way to go.

      Just keep the reputation of Cayman by opening the Cayman Islands for business.  Closing off the opportunity to only one sales person is not a good idea.  Aren't we concerned about keeping this business for the long term?  Businesses know about succession planning right?  What happens if their key salesperson gets hit by the bus?  Then what?  We are putting all our eggs in one basket so these people can get rich.  What about the wider implications? 

      If this was offered on a wider scale then the investor can go somewhere else?  This is why there needs to be a mix of experience, background and education levels of the politicians.  A businessman would have asked these questions.  A lawyer would have asked why the monopoly and exclusivity?  An experienced individual with both these means would say this is a good opportunity, now let's make it for everyone.

      One bad move made by these developers and the entire reputation of the Cayman Islands is lost.  The Cayman Islands cannot afford for that to happen.

       

  16. Anonymous says:

    Go ahead, keep reminding everyone how unfair it is that this one developer somehow got special concessions from government that are not available to Caymanians.

  17. Anonymous says:

    So the government understands the factors that are holding the economy back. They just decided to remove the roadblocks for economic diversification, but just for this one developer for some entirely non-transparent reason. We are left to guess what went on to come to that decision. This was either a really stupid decision or …….

  18. Anonymous says:

    "The two sites currently under consideration for the final CEC location itself are “east of George Town but not as far east as East End,”… well that rounds it down a tad…

  19. Big Wane says:

    At least we have some sort of  plan and goals setwith this project. Unlike certain ignorant politicians jumping up and down crying about every single thing, who when in power did absolutely nothing but buy a pair of Stetson cowboy boots and a little red corvette. What a shame the Cayman Islands has lost so much time and how some people have slept on people's hopes and dreams and all they can do now is work for talk shows and talk about all they have done for Cayman yet the island was given away under their watch. No more sweet talk of the hypocrites Cayman This entire political group needs to be retire for good. ALL of them Cayman

    • Anon says:

      So your point is then that you are a UDP supporter and it upsets you when the opposition that you are calling cowboys – question your party members actions?

      Okie Dokie… I wonder if you will blindly defend them, always and forever.

      I on the other hand wish to thank the inquiring minds of the opposition MLA's especially the two that you refer to as cowboys. Time to shine your boots and kick some a&s cowboys!

      Let's wait and watch the show Big Wane!

      • Okiefrom mispokeee says:

        Yes i hope that works out better than Kurt's prediction of the losses in the global economic downturn the only @$$e$ getting kick out here is the common people paying the bills especially that power company deal Bill.I wonder if they are having any difficulties whatsoever paying their bills. Is it a wonderful feeling having not to worry about how you are going to pay yours eh?

  20. Anonymous says:

    A little too late for this entire idea and plan.

  21. Anonymous says:

    To me it is just plain wrong that the advantages given to this foreign developer were not made available to Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mabye they will be when Caymanians start putting thier money where thier mouth is..

  22. Anonymous says:

    XXXX

    give me the concessions before I put a shovel in the ground…….

    what have these developers invested in cayman so far in monetary terms?

    • Anonymous says:

      I understand they have spent around $4m thus far. With operations in Cayman (20+ staff of which 70% are Caymanian) and Dubai. 

  23. Anonymous says:

    Really wish some of this sort of investment/ development could reach us on the Brac.

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Yes – after all you really do have nicer roads than Grand Cayman.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Whatever the personal opinion of this project, we ALL have to admit… these guys are certainly making it happen! Bring us those jobs and carry on the great work

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah they are making it happen for themselves.  This is a personal project with public implications. 

  25. Anonymous says:

    pipe dream

  26. Anonymous says:

    The Viewpoint next to this story explains a lot about what is going on.

  27. Anonymous says:

    another soon come story…..i'll believe when i see it being built…….

  28. The future says:

    I think this is great.  Finally using our unique location to take advantage of a global world.  Our  finance pioneers had this moxy and we should all be behind this.  Every joe-local will benefit by more people investing in CEC.  I'm 100% for these new ideas….and going to East End, good touch too.

    • Anonymous says:

      The finance pioneers came because they had choice and were not forced to deal with only one developer. And CEC is going to the outskirts of George Town – on the Bodden Town side, not East End.

  29. Anonymous says:

    So what? If the government had done things fairly and allowed everyone to have the same concessions that were given to this one foreign developer then there would be many people out talking to potential investors. Just what was offered to who to get this deal for that one developer?  

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe they are. 

      Did you go to Govt, show them your mult-billion dollar plan, show them similar sized previously sucessfully executed plans and ask them for some concessions to do the same here? 

      Thought not.

      As for myself, I am going to start a biotech company and go to the CEZ and make use of the benefits.  Cayman has cut itself off from the major growth industries in the world.  Its about time.

      • Anonymous says:

        You clearly missed the point entirely or you are working for the developer. Did you ever think that if government had the interests of the citizens in mind they would have encouraged high tech business by making the incentives available to all developments bringing in high tech investors? If you really intend to invest in a bio-tech company would you not like to have multiple choices regarding where to locate? Thought so.

      • Anonymous says:

        Every nation has to protect their own.  That is what wars generally were about.  Fighting over the rights of the land/property of the territory and foreigners taking wanting to take over the territory. 

        Providing exclusive financial and economic rights to a foreigner is not ethical.  If the general public realized the implications of what is happening, we should have a civil war and overthrow the govt.  Granting these concessions to a foreigner that has not even resided in the islands for two years, shows the loyalty the government has to its constituents.  It does not care about the locals nor does it care about the expatriates that wish to eventually reside in the Cayman Islands for the long term.  The concessions should be an island wide basis without the restrictions of a developer or individual.  If the Cayman Islands government is truly willing to improve the economy of the Cayman Islands then make the legislation a law for the Cayman Islands, not a law for CEC. 

        The benefits of this project can be wonderful for the islands, but it should be for the entire Cayman Islands.  Who cares that the idea came from some developer.  This is the Cayman Islands and if he wants to set up shop here he SHOULD respect the people of the islands and understand that he CANNOT come to the islands and rape and pillage the country of money by preying on the goodness of the Cayman people.  Lest I forget, it is really the greediness of the politicians as there is no way that it is possible that such an idiotic idea of giving exclusive rights to a foreigner with no proven success is granted such a deal without the politicians benefitting.  Itis naïve for anyone to think that this deal did not happen without such happening.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don't expect common since from ignorant people with thier hand out…