By: Alan Markoff | email@example.com
A special economic zone focused on technologies could start operations in less than a year.
Premier McKeeva Bush signed a Memorandum of Understanding Thursday with Hon Cayman Properties, which wants to create what it is calling the world’s first Global Enterprise City.
Hon Cayman Properties has developed the HSBC building on West Bay Road, as well the master-planned community known as Foothill Ranch in California.
Mr. Bush said the creation of a special economic zone would bring, among other things, “untold opportunities to the youth of the Cayman Islands”.
“It is especially significant that our small-island nation will be home to one of the most unique parks in the world and the only such Enterprise City in the Caribbean region,” he said.
The special economic zone would include six campuses; Cayman Internet Park; CayBiotech; Cayman Media Park; Cayman Global Commodities Centre; Cayman International Academic Park; and Cayman Outsource Park.
Mr. Bush said the MOU, which was signed by the Ministry of Finance because the matter has not yet been discussed in Cabinet, calls for the negotiating and agreeing on a detailed agreement by 1 March. Following an agreement, Mr. Bush said the goal was to have the first phase of the project become operational on 1 January 2012.
“In short, a year from now the Cayman Islands will experience significant growth and diversification from this single project,” Mr. Bush said. “To put that in perspective, the special economic zone is estimated to directly create over 5,000 jobs, of which 20 per cent will be reserved for Caymanians. It is also expected to create 3,000 indirect jobs.”
Mr. Bush said the project would also lead to the growth and diversification of Cayman’s export base.
During his speech at the Fidelity Cayman Business Outlook immediately before the signing, Mr. Bush said the project’s total investment was valued at more than US$500 million over the next 10 years.
The idea of the Internet park aims to attract global information technology and software companies. The biotechnology and research park will focus on the needs of research organisations and companies specialising in pharmaceuticals, biomedical devices, biotechnology, cosmesis and enzymes.
The Cayman Media Park would provide advanced infrastructure and supportive environment for media businesses to operate globally out of Cayman.
The strategic initiative of creating a global commodities centre aims to centralise that market in Cayman.
“Our jurisdiction will become the first dedicated commodities centre in the America’s time zone,” Mr. Bush said.
The outsource park would facilitate the production and manufacturing of zone-based products in specialised centres in India and Indonesia.
Mr. Bush said international academic park would be “the world’s only technology special economic zone dedicated to higher education”.
“The campus will eventually provide over 500 students with access to higher education, showcasing the cosmopolitan and multicultural nature of the region,” Mr. Bush said. “Students have access to over 30 higher education programmes, including undergraduate and post graduate programmes such as biotechnology, media, finance, healthcare and more.
In addition to the direct effects of the special economic zone, Mr. Bush said it would have knock-on effects of bolstering the construction industry and give Caymanians the opportunity to learn and be a part of new and dynamic knowledge-based industries.
Although the main special economic zone is planned for Grand Cayman on a site to be determined, Mr. Bush Cayman Brac would not be left out.
“We have already had discussions with the company on how expansion can be had by including Cayman Brac,” he said.