Cayman Enterprise City Marks a Decade of SEZ Development
George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (22 February 2022) – February 2022 marks 10 years since the Cayman Islands special economic zones by Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) welcomed their first special economic zone company (SEZCo). CEC is now home to over 300 special economic zone companies “which features a broad variety of globally significant businesses, including one of the world’s fastest growing web browsers, a world-renowned video production company, and the planet’s fastest growing precious metals royalties company,” said Charlie Kirkconnell, Chief Executive Officer of CEC.
Over the past 10 years, CEC has attracted new knowledge-based industries to the Cayman Islands, has been ranked amongst the world’s top Free Zones, and has made a half billion dollar impact on the Cayman Islands’ economy.
In 2011, on the heels of the global financial crisis of 2008, the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) was looking for projects with the potential to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), develop new business sectors distinct from financial services and tourism, and help diversify Cayman’s economy. The Special Economic Zones Act, which resulted from a fully transparent agreement between the Cayman Islands Government and Cayman Enterprise City, quickly came into effect and CEC opened their doors for business in February 2012.
“I offer sincere congratulations to Charlie Kirkconnell and his partners at Cayman Enterprise City for 10 years of creating new jobs, new industries, new businesses and new careers here in the Cayman Islands,” said Premier Hon. G. Wayne Panton, MP, JP. “When the Special Economic Zones Bill, 2011, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly it was said that ‘This is an exciting and important project for the future of the Cayman Islands and speaks to the advent of what is potentially a new pillar of our economy to go along with financial services and tourism. We are indeed harnessing our economy and indeed the future opportunities of our people to the technologies and industries of the future’. Those were indeed prophetic words.”
“CEC opened with 10 companies and today services more than 300. I am especially proud of the work that CEC does with our young people, offering summer internships to students and recent graduates aged 18-25 where they get an opportunity to connect with leading industry professionals and gain skills and experience. I thank Charlie and everyone at Cayman Enterprise City for their hard work and dedication to the Cayman Islands over these past 10 years. I wish you continued success in the future.”
After a decade of growth, CEC is now home to the largest innovation ecosystem in the region and paves the way for growth stage start-ups, unicorns, and multinational firms to accelerate success. Through CEC, the Cayman Islands boasts the first dedicated commodities and derivatives centre in the Americas’ time zone and in 2017 launched Cayman Maritime & Aviation City designed specifically to attract shipping and maritime industries to establish a genuine physical presence in the Cayman Islands.
“Cayman Enterprise City is 100% Caymanian owned and led, this is something we all should be proud of,” said Kirkconnell. “Through transparent reporting, community building, and sustainable development initiatives, we aim to demonstrate our capacity as Caymanians to innovate and diversify our economic base, create resilience, offer immense value, and continue to distinguish our jurisdiction as a world-class hub for innovation.”
In October 2021, CEC was recognised by the Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence Magazine with an Excellence Award in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) Practices for efforts in developing a sustainable special economic zones project. The 2021 Free Zones Awards mark the second consecutive year for CEC to be recognised as a top free zone in the Americas.
“Environmental, Social and Governance means that we are first and foremost building a business model and campus to serve generations to come. It means we’re constantly looking at the impact of our decisions and our business practices and how they measure up in all three dimensions,” said Cindy O’Hara, Chief Development Officer of CEC. “Are we using materials that harm the environment? Are we contributing to the waste problem in the Cayman Islands or working to solve it? Are we providing targeted opportunities that will make life better for us all here in the Cayman Islands? Are we being transparent in how we do business? We are in business for the purpose of creating a better future, a stronger economy and greater quality of life. All of our decisions go through this filter.”
In 2013 the focus on the special economic zones development project shifted gears when Kirkconnell took on the role as CEO. “Focusing on community and experience was really what changed the fortunes of the project,” said Kirkconnell. “We’re not only building special economic zones and attracting foreign direct investment, but we’re also building new and exciting opportunities for the next generation of Caymanians. We’re working tirelessly to ensure that the development project makes a significant socioeconomic impact and is developed as an asset for the benefit of the Cayman Islands.”
In October 2021, the Enterprise Cayman workforce development initiative by CEC in partnership with Cayman Islands’ special economic zone companies relaunched as a non-profit organisation (NPO) and educational arm of the CEC special economic zones (SEZs) development project. The initiative, established in 2012, has been designed to create a space for Caymanians and residents of the Cayman Islands to develop, collaborate, and take advantage of an ever diversifying and developing economy. “We recognise that the success of the CEC project will continue to depend on our developing significant benefits for the country, not just today but also in the many years ahead, through driving additional economic growth and entrepreneurial and career opportunities for Caymanians,” said Kirkconnell. “Relaunching Enterprise Cayman as an NPO reaffirms our commitment our next generation of innovators.”
To learn more about CEC’s 10 Year Anniversary and to download a copy of CEC’s economic and socioeconomic impact reports visit: https://www.caymanenterprisecity.com/10yearanniversary