Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) and the special economic zones (SEZs) continue to significantly impact the Cayman Islands’ economy. To date the development project has contributed an estimated US $155.16 million to Cayman’s economy ($113.01 million in direct spending and $42.15 million indirectly). Last year alone CEC contributed an estimated US $41.56 million. The 2017 figures reflect a 9.4% increase over 2016’s $37.6 million. The announcement, in keeping with a commitment CEC made in its first year to disclose its local economic impact annually, is the latest report of seven — the first released in 2011.
CEC’s success is good news for the Cayman Islands. The large number of knowledge-based entrepreneurs who have established a physical presence within Cayman’s SEZs bring much sought after diversity to Cayman’s economy. CEC currently has more than 225 companies operating within three SEZs which include, Cayman Tech City, Cayman Commodities and Derivatives City, and Cayman Maritime and Aviation City.
“Entrepreneurs from around the globe are attracted by Cayman’s strong IT infrastructure, protections for intellectual property, tax benefits, as well as the ease and speed of setting up within the SEZs, and the synergies to be had by working in an active hub that enables like-minded individuals to easily socialize and collaborate,” explains Charlie Kirkconnell, CEO of CEC.
In 2017 US $30.27 million was spent by SEZ companies to incorporate, register and set up operations. This figure includes attorney fees, expenditures on office operations, and real estate purchases. The indirect impact, in terms of money spent by SEZ employees has been conservatively estimated to be US $11.29 million in 2017. This calculation is based on the assumption that the average zone employee makes a salary of US $86,019, half of which is spent within the local economy on expenses such as groceries, schools, entertainment, etc.
In recent months, blockchain development companies have been setting up in Cayman Tech City on a weekly basis. As of February 2018, some 50 blockchain companies have established or are in the process of setting up within Cayman Tech City. To that end, Cayman Tech City is setting up a training academy to teach residents coding and other technical development skills. “One thing we need to respond to is many of these companies are looking for qualified, trained technical people,” said Kirkconnell. “So, we’re aiming to create a locally available critical mass of technical talent from the local community who will be able to fill these newly created jobs.”
In five years CEC conservatively estimates that there will be over 500 businesses in the SEZs, with roughly 60% of those operating from within Cayman Tech City. “We are here to assure not only CEC continues to grow, but that the local community directly benefits from CEC’s positive development. We look forward breaking ground on our new purpose-built campus in 2018 and we see this development project as key to furthering Cayman’s thriving SEZs and ultimately helping to support and diversify Cayman’s economy,” noted Kirkconnell.