Techy park needs new law

| 19/04/2011

(CNS): Developers of the proposed special economic technology zone, Cayman Enterprise City (CEC), will break ground before the year-end if a new law is passed in time. Although there are still no anchor tenants or a confirmed location, CEO of Hon Development, Jason Blick, says that if the details of the Special Economic Zone Law and agreements with government are finalised in the next few weeks, the project could be underway by December. The law is expected to define the zone but also offer those inside it specific concessions. During the recent Middle East visit the developers met with several technology firms with the hope that one will become an anchor tenant at the site, which Blick said would be located East of George Town in one of three possible locations.

In Dubai the Hon/CI government delegation met with Oracle, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Xerox and Hewlett Packard, said Blick, who stated, “We are keen to launch the project with key anchor tenants.”

The developers are offering a range of concessions to those who will become tenants, including reduced flat-rate work permit fees, a reduced importduty structure, as well as protection of intellectual property, which will, they say, be part of the law the Cayman government will pass to facilitate the project.

The ‘techy park’ or enterprise city will only offer space to very specific types of industries, the developers have said, and it will be designed to accommodate those future technologies.

“CEC is designed to meet the needs of five specific types of industries,” Blick said, which he listed as ICT, biotechnology, commodities exchange, media and complementary academia. “This means the creation of unique infrastructure taking account of the bespoke requirements of these ‘future-proof’ industries. In particular, the IT backbone that supports CEC will be one of the most advanced in the Americas region, propelling the Cayman Islands to the forefront of the high-tech sector.”

Blick said that the developers hope to have the ‘Definitive Agreement with Government’ within the next seven weeks, along with the commitment to pass the Special Economic Zone Law. It is not clear exactly what the law will entail but it is understood that it will provide for the concessions and reductions in the usual permit, duty and licence fees that the tenants of CEC will enjoy.

The CEC project is being developed by Hon Development Company LLC and it will be based on the models established in Dubai. The developer says it will be a minimum of 500,000 square feet of office space by June 2016, built in three phases. Phase one will include 150,000 sq.ft of leasable office space, which will be completed within 24 months of the commencement date, the developers said.

The project involves an initial investment of approximately $326m between 2011 and 2020. Hon says there will be some 5,000 jobs created by CEC, and a KPMG Report said it would generate almost 10,000 indirect employment opportunities in total. Developers said that while one fifth of the jobs would go to locals, the remaining 80% would be work permit holders.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Lets hope they get a local architect…those buildings cant work in a tropical, hurricane island.

    Hope they are doing a better job planning the businesses…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would think a mandatory 20% would scare many investors away, especially ones that do proper due diligence.

    • Hush says:

      The investors obviously are interested which is why the project is going forward. Hush your mouth it will be revenge of the nerds!

  3. While You Were Out says:

    I support this project as I believe it is a good one for the future of the island. But 1/5 Caymanian employment is a little slim given that it is called the Cayman Island where Cayman Islanders live. I think the CIG can strike a better deal if concessions on it’s part are a requirement. If CIG wants to think forward don’t limit this number yet at least not as part of the terms until it is seen who is qualified or could become qualified in the future. Training should be part of the arrangement. Otherwise, a good prospect for Cayman.

    • JTB says:

      The 20% figure is a minimum, not a limit.

      That said, the point of this development is to create an environment where Caymanians can acquire the skills and training needed to participate inindustries such as this.

      Think of it as putting the horse before the cart

    • Trekster says:

      JTB has a good point re “the horse before the cart”. Cayman needs another sector to develop. Without the opportunity and the infrastructure Caymanians will have nothing more than what is currently offered and as said from another commentator not everyone can be in finance or banking. Embrace the progression of Cayman as innovative. It seems the best is yet to come!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Questions :

    1 : Cayman’s offshore finance industry was founded on us being tax neutral and (a long time ago) low cost. Is having to set up a SEZ with low work permit and other fees not a major admission that we have failed our own economic miracle by being unable to do anything about the high cost of business. Oh, sorry, we are still "tax free"…

    2 : High tech. No, 4mb "broadband" and EDGE mobile data just won’t cut it, but not one word from CIG about promoting / enabling / encouraging investment in current infrastructure for our digital world. Cayman used to lead in this area, now we lag.

    3 : I would suggest researching the most sustainably successful SEZs and look at who was behind them, now look at the corporate resume of those backing the Cayman one and see how much relevant experience they have in this area.

    Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, but have researched and strategised on all three of the above, and each presents concerns on this project




    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent questions which highlight the need for long term thinking BEFORE launching into this project. If done right this could be a good thing but if not it will just produce more paved space and empty buildings that will undermine the rest of the economy. There are a few of these parks around the planet and not one of the successful ones has started with a foreign developer asking a " broke"  government for special concessions that are not available to the rest of the economy.

  5. says:

    Can someone  please clarify what 20% of the jobs created will go to Caymanians?

    It makes no sense to have such development in Cayman if the only opportunity Caymanians get is to be expected to smile and serve coffee to the new arrivals.

    If the 400 students graduating from John Gray High School each year have no real opportunity in all these new proposed developments except maybe swinging a hammer for 15 months in construction then we must expect crime to increase.

    Rising crime will lead to the demise of any economic success from these projects.

    • The Nile says:

      Aren’t 20% of the jobs better than no jobs at all, regardless of what those jobs are.

      • Sunneversets says:

        Of course that is better, but it rubs up against the zero sum entitlement mentality that is prevalent here among some groups.

    • competence first says:

       Heres the deal (at least in a modern developed country)  little education=little work, (except your leadership)  good education=good jobs,  great education =great jobs.  Instead of asking for a percentage of jobs that your only qualification is that your Caymanian you should be asking for a better education system that will guarantee you a great job no matter what or where you are.  Or you can keep with the system of forcing employers to hire some Caymanians and then hire others to actually do the work like now.

    • Tech jobs are cool! says:

      I am sure there will be many opportunities. Don’t be so doom and gloom. Currently there are many Caymanians qualified in the technology field but there are no jobs which fit their skills. What has happened – as with myself – is that you take the next best job. I am currently in the financial industry and while my IT skills are being utilized it is not to the full potential. I have adapted myself working in the financial sector now, however I would like to go back to my first love. Please try to be positive for the currently qualified. As for the high school students that are not qualified, they do have a ways to go such as getting higher education, whether it is university, college or learning a trade. Expecting a job straight out of high school is not something anyone should strive for, especially expecting a job which pays well. This is the way of the world. This new venture is for the ambitious not the mediocre. Allow the ambitious to thrive and develop and in the same note giving the mediocre the incentive/opportunity to go into a science/technology based profession.

  6. Michael Weston says:

    This could be a tremendous opportunity. 


  7. Anonymous says:

    This is excellent. Exactly what a village like Cayman Islands needs. After all Cayman  should not only be known for its cruise shippers ‘drive through’ destination. Locals get jobs = improvement of the country’s economy and that should be enough for all the ‘concerned’ with their comments about who benefits where (if only they were reeeeally that concerned about the people of the Cayman Islands).


  8. Anonymous says:

    Is it the developers, the tenants or the politicians that will get the concessions?

  9. Anonymous says:

    If done right this could be a good thing.

    If done the way certain other developments have been done in the past then it will just make a few “connected” people even more rich.

    Will there be exclusions in the new laws that will prevent Caymanians from also doing these types of developments? Unlike Dr. Shetty who seems to already have the money and the clients, the current developers seem to be looking for both so there can be no justification for “exclusive” deals.

  10. Firefly - A techy at heart says:

    This is a wonderful opportunity for the country. There are so many positives abound. It will bring international recognition in another field aside from the current –Tourism and Finance – and if harnessed well, may exhibit to the world Cayman as the next “Silicon Valley” or Tech world of excellence.

    The Cayman Islands needs to forge ahead with an ‘out of the box’ thinking and this ‘Tech Zone’ is it! I thank the developers and the CEO for their graciousness into giving the Cayman Islands this fantastic opportunity.

    This is very exciting for the Cayman Islands and I am looking forward to its development.

    • Rob I. says:

      Hold the celebration until ground is broken. I’m for it like you are, but I wouldn’t want that celebration to be in vain.

    • Anonymous says:

      The first thing needed is to sensitize the local people of the importance of science. In the House of Lords recently a famous OXFORD academic sought to remove the distinction between pure science and its applications.
      Can everyone be a banker or lawyer? Methinks not.
      Its now time for science I say.

      • Chuck Darwin says:

        … the importance of science, together with the usual baseline for performing scientific investigation. I’d recommend a full flush of all wrong-headed ideas about the earth being flat or being created 7000 years ago, relying on sky-fairys to explain the operation of the physical world, and listening to self-professed sky-fairy spokespersons (or handmodels), followed by a full course of studies in math, physics, computer programing, logic, and the selection of polka-dotted bowties and short pants.

  11. Good Stuff says:

    Yup Mr Bush – contrary to what you think, we are supportive of some development, just not hair-brain pie in the skie ideas like Oil Refineries in the East End and channels in the North Sound.

    This is an excellent project, and one that has my full support.  This is the sort of diversification and initiative that Cayman so desperately needs.  This and the Shetty hospital have the potential to make a huge difference, without killing the nation.

    I would love to get a job here once its done!

  12. Hmm says:

    Here we go with “special concessions” – translation “no work permits required”

  13. Anonymous says:

    just ask dr. shetty about cig getting things done……zzzzzzzz

  14. Anonymous says:

    The idea of such a park is a good one. My concerns are that any exclusivity provisions in new legislation regarding such a park might effectively keep Caymanians from developing similar projects in their own company. XXXX BTW – Anguilla seems to have introduced income this week. That should send at least some business our way. CNS perhaps you might wish to post some links from the Anguillian press related to this?

    • Anonymous says:

      I think this comment meant to say that Anguilla has introduced income tax in the last few days to go along with their calls for independence from Britain. This has been reported in the media in the Eastern Caribbean but I have not seen it in the Cayman media.

  15. Why Not? says:

    Cayman Brac is East of George Town

  16. Anonymous says:

     Sad thing is, Mac’s previous behavior makes everything he touches toxic.  I don’t trust him to make a good deal even when there is one.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I believe this could be a good thing also.  However we do not need to rush into it.  If it is a valid way to go then it will stand the scrutiny that all such major undertaking should be given. The facts laid out for the public.  Proper time for public discussion and review of the law changes.  Notice as to what concessions are being given.  In the open all transparent. Not behind closed doors and done overnight.  This should not be a deal between Mac and Hon development it should be a deal between the people of the Cayman Islands and the Developer.

    I am willing to bet, however that it will not go down that way.  it most likely will be years before we find out what Mac has given away of ours for this.

    All I ask it take time to do it right and transparent. Or do not do it!

    • Business Reality says:

      By the time you are done talking about it, it will be over and this opportunity will be in another jurisdiction. I’m surprised Shetty is still hanging around (I would have given up months ago).

    • Tech jobs are cool! says:

      Business reality you are spot on! Seriously who are we, the little islands that time forgot, to think that there is something inherently special about this location over any other. Discussion and transparency is good, however delays and red tape will drive business away. Let them get a move on with this. I want a job in the tech field!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wait until we see what the special “Law” will enact!!!

    I’m betting we will be giving away everything, yet again. And more profits going into the pockets of the few!!!

  19. Looking ahead says:

    I don’t know how big this is going to be, but if it’s a little village like Caymana Bay (and hopefully it will be), they should promote using the new electric cars in it and installing solar charging stations there. It would be really nice to showcase Cayman as on the leading edge of tech, instead of lagging behind everyone else.

    • OK, who’s the tosser that gave this a thumbs down?

      • UDP Supporter says:

        Anything with lots of thumbs up is usually critical of McKeeva. I don’t have time to read all of them, and so far the ones that I did read I couldn’t understand.

        • Nonnie Mouse says:

          Oh bless this little Young UDP apparatchick. I think they take it in turns.  Typing away in defence of their idol.

  20. Anonymous says:

    okay, lets hear from the naysayers and the anti-Mckeeva rethoric makers about how is the best way to slow this project down or kill it all together..

    We need something started in this country or we are all going to starve to death..all the political rethoric, blaming, blogs, talk shows and newsprint are simply used to benefit a certain few and does nothing to help the majority of us..This is how thesepeople keep their jobs and we have none. Are we that thin-skinned that we can’t see through this?

    Let’s get behind this group and embrace them. We need new business, jobs and we need to jump start our economy.

    Being negative and condemning about every project just lets us stay where we are and we need to get our country going again.


  21. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    I believe this is a great opportunity for Cayman. Spins offs could be specific courses at ICCI for Caymanians. Hon Dev could promote and follow Caymanian youth through High School and into college with job opps at the end.

    Hopefully government will stay away from any involvement. 

    • Joe Bananas says:

      Government and education have not been very good to each other here.  Cayman needs to start thinking about what kind of leadership they want next and of course who will lead them.  Like it or not the state of the Government is the state of cayman people.  I think everyone but one can agree that Cayman deserves better.

    • Anonymous says:

      It looks to me more like an opportunity for those involved to shift assets out of Dubai before the country goes the same way as Libya and Egypt.