Mac signs ‘nerd’ zone deal

| 20/01/2011

(CNS):The premier has signed an MOU to pave the way for the development of a unique science and technology economic zone that will create thousands of jobs and bring new investment. The specialist park will be developed by Hon Cayman Properties Ltd and provide facilities for IT, research and development, bio-technology, new media, further education, global commodities and other intelligence led business in a specially designated tax-free zone. McKeeva Bush signed the deal with the Hon family during the CBO conference at the Ritz-Carlton on Thursday, saying it would bring a whole new aspect of business to diversify Cayman’s economy.

He explained that government would be passing specific legislation that would facilitate the creation of the commercial area focusing entirely on future science, technology and intelligence led industries. Bush said the establishment of the economic zone, which will be the first and only in the Caribbean region, would be developed over 300 acres encompassing six differentcampuses focusing on specialist areas. He promised that thousands of well paid jobs would be created, and while the developer and the subsequent investors would have work permit needs, facilitated positions would be earmarked for Caymanians.

“We are going to be successful if we cooperate with our investors, work with them, show them kindness instead of digging pits for people to fall into,” said Bush as he warned people not to tear down the project, which he said would be very good for the country.

“When you tear down me or speak bad about government you are talking bad about yourselves,” he warned people as he asked the country to embrace this new proposed development.

Although the premier and the developers did not reveal the names of the leading global technology, research and pharmaceutical firms that they said would be coming to the zone, they said that there was significant interest from major companies.

The premier also promised that there would be some benefit extended to the Sister Islands as part of the technology zone, though he did not go into specific details.

The premier pointed out that the MOU was the first step in the negotiations and the issue would be discussed in Cabinet. 

Jason Blake, CEO of Hon Cayman Properties Ltd, said it was the most exciting initiative to happen in the Cayman Islands for many years. Hon is not new to the Cayman Islands as the developers were responsible for the HSBC centre on the West Bay Road. Blake gave an approximate timeline for the development of the campuses as around 18 months but said the first business licenses for these new technology companies would be awarded before the end of this year.

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  1. IT Instructor says:

    As one who is in IT, I think the Premier is on the right track. My respects to him, the UDP crew, and those who will be signing the mou for this economic zone. Anyone who is against this, is too partisan to understand that we are in the same boat! I love Cayman and I would like to see more unity.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a truely wonderful project and I could not be more supportive. The CEO is a guy that managed huge and successful projects in Bahrain or Dubai. Mac, this is one project we cannot afford to lose. You have the country behind you on this

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mark Zuckerberg has made nerdon a cool thing. You squares need to relax.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank God the boss is a man of action. Thank God we where smart enough to change out the last “Talk a good game, do nothing crowd” that was in there before.

    Well done McKeeva keep up the good work.

  5. pmilburn says:

    For once our Premier has done something right re getting businesses up and running(at least on paper) re this new “Nerd Zone”Now please leave our environment alone especially the fragile north sound..

  6. danielle says:

    sounds very good Mac – words of hope and encouragement.

  7. Dr. Anonymous says:

    Anything to create thousand of jobs, bring in a new field of education, and bring new investment to the island… Bush can’t go wrong! Like always, he has my support.

  8. Anonymous says:

    No No No. Haven’t they read the script. The best place globally for IT is Leeds.



  9. UCCI says:

    Again, McKeeva has baffled his accusers! They can’t even come up with a good recommendation on improving Cayman’s economy! Losers, they are! All of them! On behalf of my entire family, we commend the Premier for having this MOU signed. It will start a new market in the field of science. This is the kind of opportunities we need here.

  10. Marek says:

    Geek, would have been a better choice of wording… but either way… I get it… maybe a little less creative license in the future.

    Yes to posters to say … weak spot here is bandwidth. We are sadly lacking, even with muxing the signals we still need a bigger pipe. That’s a hundred million bucks… it can’t be done by sat…

    Here’s where we can win at this game. As the US states look for cash there is and has been ‘serious’ talk about imposing an internet sales tax. A large portion of net sales are now intangibles … software, music and apps.

    In Apple’s case about $4 billion a year. If California added a 9% sales tax as they do on retail purchases, Apple would loose the price advantage, either they maintain the costs and absorb the tax, or pass the tax along… either way… it’s bad.

    If they can relocate their App sales business to … say "CAYMAN" then those taxes wouldn’t have to be applied and the price advantage remains.

    Simple enough.

    As to Mr. Hon… not sure he has the resources to pull this off… or that he has our best interests at heart… tread softly here and check the fine print.

  11. Anonymous says:

    You gotta love these idiots that google a name and post by cutting and pasting without any facts or knowledge of the article and where it fits in the relative cases timeline. so much is incorrect in the Armenia ruling and the comments made were false and later retracted.

    by all means do you research on Barry Hon but do it by checking the facts with gov agencies and other officials that can provide factual based comments.

  12. PaperCaymanian says:

    This really is an excellent idea – if you read between the lines it will be a similar "tax free" zone to the one in Curacao which has attracted strong investment from organizations and IT companies alike for hosting ot IT systems in the "cloud". However, to maximize this opportunity Cayman really needs to look at reducing bandwidth costs and providing the type of bandwidth needed would require additional undersea cables to the mainland.

    • Anonymous says:

      So much for introducing competition years ago to the telecom industry.
      All that succeeded in doing was displacing Caymanians who built the infrastructure and openedthe doors to others to ‘cherry-pick’ their high profits.

      This is what happens when we believe those from afar know best for us.

      • I'll be Frank says:

         You’re right. I really enjoyed paying those outrageous overseas and cell rates before telecom competition.  Can we please just go back to the days when it was just Cable & Wireless!

  13. karen says:

    Thank you McKeeva – you are a man of action!

    • Anonymous says:

      i would like to agree with you but he has been a man of broken promises, u-turn and flip flops for the past year….

      • anonymous says:

        Could it be that what you call u-turns and flip-flops, is really a man who is careful on making the right decisions for his country? I have children, and I have had to change my mind many times, after learning of new events occurring that would not be in their best interest. Use your imagination and think how it is for a country! In running a country, there are alot of u-turns that have to be made until you get it right. That is just how it is

  14. Just Commentin' says:

    So Mac says: "When you tear down me or speak bad about government you are talking bad about yourselves."

    I wonder: Does this extend to his frequent and destructively critical tirades against the opposition side of government too? Mac’s statement is a very telling and ominous insight into his ego, his intentions, and his absolute and bitter disdain for the democratic freedom to express one’s opinion. This one statement speaks more "bad" about this country and its leadership than has any of the speeches of the Opposition. At least they refrain from sounding like Hugo Chavez.

    Woah! Hold on for a moment!

    Regarding this "specially designated tax-free zone" – I thought the whole of the Cayman Islands enjoyed tax-free status? There must be a lot more to this deal than meets the eye.

    Before lavishing any praise on this latest measure, would it not be the mark of a prudent person to be informed of what concessions Mac gave away first? In light of the mindlessly broad concessions given to kiss up to Shetty and others – including the cap on medical malpractice claims, which cap the Cayman medical association strongly opposed – I am quite fearful of what Mac’s latest deal entails.

    Were any details of this agreement made public before it was signed? Are such details now available? If the answer is no on either point, why not?

    Comments here heaping praise on an agreement before knowing all the details and before knowing what it will cost the country are the utterances of a moron.

    • Vassel says:

      “When you tear down me or speak bad about government you are talking bad about yourselves.”

      I guess he means what he says. If you love Cayman, get over it and do something constructive for the country!

      • Lachlan MacTavish says:

        " When you tear me down or speak bad about Government you are talking bad about yourselves". Wrong again Mr. Bush. You speak as if the majority want you and the present Government. A minority of voters from yourdistrict elected you and you control some politicians. The majority of the countries voters would like to see the country being Governed by a cabinet.

        • road to 100,000 says:

           you’re spot on Lach.

          If I remember correctly, Bush (McD) only had 1000 votes or so? 

          I am expecting his next announcement to be something along the lines of the Chinese will be deploying their next space craft from East End, on some neighbouring land to Arden Macleans. 

          Bush (McD) taunts people publicly to share their ideas if they don’t like his- this is mere posturing as anyone in their right mind knows Bush (McD) would never listen to the electorates ideas over his own. 

          When the dust settles on these projects there will be carnage scattered throughout Cayman. Devastated environment, unfinished projects, too many concessions granted, an abundance of status grants, and too many Caymanians feeling left off the wealth train. Cayman deserves a leader for the people and not a dictator. It is especially scary when Bush (McD) actually states he would like to be a Dictator. XXXX

          the wild wild west continues… 

      • Just Commentin' says:

        We can "guess what he means" until our guesser wears out, but the truth is Mac handles criticism very poorly and his remark seems to be another deflective tactic. By your own measure, he should be putting feet under his remark and lead by example. (If he loves the country, that is.)

        "If you love Cayman, get over it and do something constructive for the country" is a nice warm fluffy homily but has little grounding in reality. These days, in a capitalistic democracy, most of what gets done – investment, development, progress and political decisions – have little to do with altruism and much to do with greed and power. Precious few individuals deviate from such modus operandi and do things solely for love of country. In spite of outward appearances regarding self-sacrificial behaviour, there is usually a lot more "self" involved than meets the eye. The sacrifice oft times is purely incidental.

  15. slowpoke says:

    Apparently nerds lack the humor gene.

  16. Que says:

    Funny headline, and I’m a nerd.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Is this the same Barry Hon that bought Merren’s?


    The last BIG deal Barry was bringing to Cayman:
    December 2003 – Mr. Barry Hon, Chairman of (TWTC), DondeLaski, CEO of TWTC and Bobby Bodden, Director of CaymanTel were present to hand over the application document to Phillip Brazeau of the Information, Communications and Technology Authority. …

    "This is an important day for Cayman", said Bobby Bodden. "We are now moving into the next phase of changing the face of communications in Cayman. The former House of Merren has been purchased in order to become CaymanTel Centre and should be ready for limited occupancy by the license announcement date and will be ready to offer services early next year, employing at least 50 Caymanians."

  18. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone vetted Hon?

    Before we all get excited about what we are being sold in this deal between Mac and Barry Hon shouldn’t someone in the government have investigated this developer’s previous ventures?  Do we really know what we might be opening ourselves up to?  This is one example of what he did to a previous government:


    The government of Armenia contends that a telecommunications company controlled by Orange County developer Barry Hon skipped out on paying $18 million in taxes and penalties before ceasing operations in that country last year. An Armenian court earlier this week cleared the way for the government to seize $18 million worth of stock in the Armenian telephone company, Armentel, which was once co-owned by Trans-World Telcom Ltd., an offshore company that the government contends is run by Barry Hon.
    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, I believe everything that shining example of democracy, the Government of Armenia, says. XXXX

    • Anonymous says:

      The haters have resorted to making things up i see, just get out of the way and let us do some work to save the contry, please.

  19. Anonymous says:

    For an example of another location that offers special economic zones and incentives, see:


  20. Absurdistani says:

    Cayman is starting to sound like Dubai. Healthcare City for Shetty, now this Technology City.

    Party politics aside, you have to call a spade a spade. These are all excellent infrastructure development ideas to propel our economy forward. This development can lay the foundation for a new and diversified future that will make our economy more resilient. How long have we heard about Technology being the third pillar of the economy? We are now seeing some progress.

    There is no reason why Cayman cannot be a hub for the Caribbean for Science, Technology and other "gold-collar" industries.


  21. Anonymous says:

    The headline of this article shows very poor judgement by CNS.

  22. A Shoddy Idea... says:

    The headline and picture are done in poor taste.  

  23. Anonymous says:

    Very poor headline CNS.  You usually do a great job of positive reporting, but insulting the very businesses that we are trying to attract during this economic depression is just not smart.  Please do better next time.  That and I have to say that I personally find that IT people are generally quite interesting people, and the stereotype that they are boring is as wrong as saying people of "x" race are all "y".  It’s just not right.

    CNS: As CNS is an essentially "nerd-based" business, the title was not intended to insult, just a little self-deprecating humour.

    • Anonymous says:

      As an IT professional, I don’t find "nerd" in the least bit insulting.  When anyone asks what I do for a living it can be a bit hard to explain to the average person so I simply say "I’m a computer nerd".  One of my favorite websites provides the latest news related to technology, etc and it’s tagline is "news for nerds, stuff that matters".  Even my wife calls me a nerd all the time 🙂

      Short version is us "nerds" don’t find the term nerd to be insulting.  Heck, it is label we wear with pride 🙂


  24. Anonymous says:

    Everyone, relax! The title is for a bit of levity, not to demean us "nerds." So put down your beakers of protest, wipe off the spilled indignation from your lab coat and let’s get back to our precious experiments in the lab before something unattended explodes.

  25. Anonymous says:

    A really great development.  We must embrace this opportunity to train and develop Caymanians for the many opportunities that this will afford.

  26. edna says:

    Don’t worry Mac

    For as soon you announce something POSITIVE and attempt to bring hope to Cayman’s economy, jealous and envious folk who don’t like you, will be posting their NEGATIVE comments on this story… you watch! 

    God will seeus through no matter what people say.


  27. Anonymous says:

    Excellent job with this one McKeeva, It will be good for the country.

    Can’t wait until tomorrow morning to hear Austin and Gilbert rip this one apart and CNS, come on "NERDS"…really now!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Good Work Ellio!

    As Ministerial Councilor for E-Government and E-Business you appear to have shown Mac the way forward.

    Hopefully he keeps listening.

  29. Anonymous says:

    This is excellent News!!! Our economy needs a shot in the arm!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    CNS this is a very poor heading for what seems to be a very positive thing for the Cayman Islands.

    Everyone knows that there is a big rift between you and the present government and in particular the Premier but this was a lost opportunity to present something in a more positive light for all of us who live here and not just another opportunity to poke fun.

    I am no big fan of the Premier but I have to give credit where credit is due and this one of the most positive things i am seen him do since being elected. It will be good for Cayman and hopefully being a first on this side of the world will draw some much needed attention and further investment to our country.

    We need to rally around these folks and try to get this off the ground as soon as possible. We are all going to starve to death if we don’t start breathing some new life into this economy. We all want the rich life we once had. Sadly, that is gone, never to return, but at least we can try to not be another crime ridden, dirty and poor Caribbean country.

    Again CNS, i know this type of headlines are attention getters but seriously as a corporate citizen, please exercise some civility and courteousness not to mention some good old positive reporting. We are all sick of hearing the bad news of crime and the like. Despite all of this, I am a loyal CNS supporter, I just want to see a little more balance.


  31. Culture Saver says:

    Horrible headline to call intellectual people ‘Nerds’. Completely loses journalistic morals.

    Not a lot of detail, but typically the areas discussed, such as Silicon Valley, are derived by higher education facilities. To make a technology park and attract business, the education aspect has to be involved. Make Cayman an Educational hub of the Caribbean and all good, long term economic  prosparity will come. Throughout history, education leads to the best, most profitable development. We cannot count on outside people to tell us what is best for our country.

  32. Dred says:

    Huuuummmmm. This is extremely interesting. I believe this has some potential.

  33. Anonymous says:

    credit where credit is due…why are there not 70 comments praising this!  It’s a great idea..but this article proves the bias of CNS comments in general.

    and was the title of the article neccesary i mean come on…

  34. Anonymous says:

    As a Caymanian I have to say this is the best initiative created by Government in my living memory. I want to work, but not in finance. I’m not alone in this view. I want a long term exciting career on my Island and this project is just want I and the Island needs.

    • lorna says:

      lol… I wonder what the other politicians that don’t like the UDP group are saying now

  35. Anonymous says:

    Really positive news for a change. The CNS headline however damages the article when it refers to "Nerds" but perhaps again sensationalism is what sells news.

    There are a number of persons in the country who have established themselves and made significant contributions to society and raised their families through employment in technology over the years in the public and private sectors.

    Because medicine relies on the same foundation as the other sciences and branches of technology namely mathematics/physics/chemistry/biology -would one call their family doctor a nerd?

    Finance & Banking is not for everyone and it is incumbent upon the society including a responsible media to not stereotype those who enjoy science and technology as their chosen profession.

  36. kris says:

    Bush, “When you tear down me or speak bad about government you are talking bad about yourselves,” he warned people as he asked the country to embrace this new proposed development.

    How many times has the Premier said words to these effect to his critics? Yet people are very ungrateful and envious of the UDP’s advancement for the country!

    The Premier has stood his ground and has not allowed criticisms deter him from his goals!

    You PPM supporters can give me so much thumbs down, but that is ok… when your crew was in power for 4 years, what did they do, but in 2008 brought the country into serious debt!

    Well done UDP!  🙂

  37. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Tax status is what will draw these types of businesses here. Good job priemier

  38. Anonymous says:

    This is an excellent opportunity for Cayman Islands not only to develop further economically and finally implement changes for the benefit of its people but also to gain more exposure in the international arena, with attracting multinational companies and world’s leading companies. I tried to understand the second last comment but suddenly realised why bother some people could never be anything more than what they are, its like explaining to an uneducated teenager the importance of growth, development and diversity – at this stage quite pointless; anyhow the new legislation is merely a step but a long term commitment to improving the current economic and political circumstances in the country. Its a historical moment. It needed to happen. The question was who and when.

  39. whodatis says:

    I’m loving this.

    Cayman is the ideal jurisdiction for such a project. More so now as so much technology and power can be crammed into tiny units / spaces today.

    Add to that our modern infrastructure, superior entities necessary for our industries, proximity to mainland USA, exposure and attachment to UK/EU jurisdiction and legislation, absence of standing restrictive legislation / regulations, small and manageable terrain etc. – this sounds like an excellent idea.

    Hope to see an island-wide wi-fi network in the coming months. Would be ideal for some spicy late night cross-island … oh, let’s call it ‘communication’ – I guess businesses could get some use out of it as well.


    Good luck to all involved.

    P.S. Does this mean we will finally be able to facilitate the online business tasks for which our local entrepreneurs have been calling?

  40. David Kirkaldy says:

    Unfortunately (and this is no comment on the content of the announcement or the investors of which I have no knowledge), this headline really does not do justice to what seems at face value to be a fairly significant announcement.  I appreciate CNS’s lighter take on headlines generally, and there is, arguably, a time and a place for the ‘Mac’ or a ‘Kurt’ moniker in a story.  However, in my opinion some news reports really ought to beframed a bit more seriously with a certain amount of respect for the office held and the significance of the announcement.  "Premier signs special economic zone deal" or similar may have conveyed the same message but in an entirely different tone.  Just my two cents worth. 

    A form of special economic zone or enabling legislation would also suitably deal with the issues concerning other large scale projects currently on the table, as is common elsewhere.

    Further, as the comments seem to invariably head down this road, how these folks; the developers of East End Seaport, Dr Shetty, etc., intend to make a dime on their projects should not be our concern.  Its their money, let them spend it as they wish.  And soon, please.

    • Anonymous says:

      David, I agree with everything you said except re the EE Seaport. That is very much our concern.

      This new initiative sounds excellent. I just hope the govt. doesn’t give away the farm to get it.

  41. David R. Legge says:

    Several years ago my wife Vicki and I had the pleasure of meeting and introducing Barry Hon to some people on the island, including our then-Governor (Peter Smith, as I recall) who offered up some tea and refreshments at Government House.

    At the time, Mr. Hon was exploring the possibility of starting up a second "telephone company" here and throughout the Caribbean but, frankly, the crowd of competitors (including Digicel) continued to grow and Mr. Hon eventually passed on that idea.

    He was, however, quite taken with the Cayman Islands and eventually invested in a couple of projects, including, as the story mentions, the HSBC development (formerly "Merren Plaza") on West Bay Road.

    What I would like to convey, though, is that Mr. Hon seemed to be a most extraordinary man—low-key but enormously successful in business, a visionary, a man of strong faith, and a very generous man in his support of his church and community.

    It is investors of this character and caliber that we need to continue to attract to these islands, and I, for one, welcome Mr. Hon and wish him and his organization great success in their new venture.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Some positive news and I know that this was pushed through by the Chamber and IT Firms in Cayman. This could really bring in a type of investors and London is looking also to creating a Tech Zone in East London. Cayman could try to attract HP, Oracle and other IT companies.

  43. expat eric says:


    Not sure if this is a "build it and they will come" or if there was already an established need, only time will tell.

    Although I don’t completely understand the premise though. Most research parks are built around resource centers. In technology markets, it is typically around large pools of intellectuals that have access to the newest advancements as well as their target customers. Examples are Johns Hopkins Jet Propulsion Laboratory that is near NASA and UC Berkley is in the actual Silicon Valley.

    Not saying it won’t work but I am curious about the thought process. I wonder if this is simply for the Shetty deal?

  44. Anonymous says:

    I thought it was April 1st. for a minute. Serious?

  45. Anonymous says:

    You have to give credit where credit is due good move could be the silicon valley of the Caribbean.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Nerd Zone?  For real?  This is the worst heading I have seen in a long time CNS.  Shameful.

  47. Anonymous says:

    It’s not that we oppose economic development and diversification.  I just want to know why we can’t have this without handing out some massive tax exemption, or having it announced by McKeeva etc.

    Is there no business or individual out there who wants to come here on their own, play by the standard rules and issue a normal press release to say they like us and have plans to do business in Cayman?

    When you do it like this you give foreign people that none of us have any familiarity with tremendous economic and cultural power, to hire and fire Caymanians, change our leisure habits, without any market forces applying to what they are doing because they just have that much money – I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad, just that I’d feel better if our government would stopwhoring us around!

    Making your own citizens feel like spectators – it’s not going to get them spending, clapping and voting for you!

    • Henry Hill says:

      I guess not.  Investors are just not lining up and falling all over themselves to come to Cayman.  Those that are willing are going to take any enticement they can wrangle.

    • Bill says:

      If it takes tax exemptions to get the business in, it’s a no-brainer that this is what we need to do.  There’s no locals building projects of this magnitude to provide jobs to us.

    • noname says:

       Sadly, we are not that attractive to international business and the competition is global and it is fierce.  Cayman, we are "not all that!" and need to stick a pin in our egos.

      I always urge my fellow Caymanians to travel to understand the world.  Once you have seen Manhattan, London, and Hong Kong you will understand that we are an insignificant spec in the large scheme of the world with not much to offer.  

      Operating business here is outrageously expensive: Real Estate, Utilities, Staffing, Skill Sets, Travel cost to Mainland, Shipping Goods, Duty, … compare all of thosecosts to setting up a company in India, Ireland, China, even Kansas and you have our competition (by the way, the unemployed in Ireland and Kansas have skill sets, good work ethics and college degrees)

      Again, WHY Cayman?  The shareholders will not be living on the beach so tell me what would entice my company to be here?

      I am ALL FOR THE IT FREE ZONE and hope that it works!!!  Dart has a Data Centre, Cayman Brac has a Data Centre, Deloitte has a Data Centre….  please, yes.  Give tax breaks and bring on the geeks!

    • Anon says:

      This is a great comment, why do we only find out after these things are a done deal? Why not put out an expression of interest invitation in the paper to see if anyone already here can do the job? Regardless of whether the deal is above board or not, they ALL look suspicious because they are done behind closed doors. Massive tax/duty  exemptions to new businesses and leaving existing Caymanian businesses out in the cold has to be a huge mistake to make. How much income is Govt losing as a result of these deals? So many questions without any answers……

  48. Anonymous says:

       Wow!  Now I know this was not Bigga’s idea but it is a good move!

    • Anonymous says:

      Amazing how everything that is bad is Mac’s idea and you are quick to criticise him even before giving it a chance to work. But everything that is good even when done by Mac and his team you try to stop from giving him credit for.


      Shetty Hospital, reduction in Government spending, HSA breaking even, Tourism arrivals up, solution for Mt. Trashmore. Diversification of the economy, private investors regaining confidence and spending money.


      Looks like Mac and his team are delivering even in spite of the naysayers

      Looks like Mac and the crew are starting

      • Anonymous says:

         About bloody time (and with everyone else’s idea…)

        Now, lets see some PRUDENT planning for a long term future instead of spending today and SAVINGS into the national piggy bank too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly – he has Ellio as Ministerial Council on E-Gov; but at least Mac seems to be listening for once.