The Chamber of Commerce held its Annual General Meeting Friday afternoon at the Brasserie Conference facility.
Members heard from the outgoing and incoming presidents, received the Treasurer’s report and then elected its 2007/08 council.
In accordance with the automatic line of succession called for in the Chamber’s Constitution, President-elect James Tibbetts became the new president and Vice President Eddie Thompson became president-elect.
Others elected during the meeting included Vice-president Stuart Bostock; Treasurer Wayne Cowan; Secretary Brian Barnes; and Councillors Paulette Anglin-Lewis, Gelia Frederick-van Genderen, Richard Hew, David Kirkaldy, James O’Neill and Freddy Sulliman.
Outgoing President Angelyn Hernandez said the Chamber accomplished many of the goals set for her presidential year, which had education, environment and economic development as its emphasis.
‘A record number of member business supported the Chamber’s Earth Day Roadside Clean-up and hundreds of volunteers removed litter and debris from our streets and signed the environmental pledge,’ she said. ‘There is so much more to be done to reduce, reuse and recycle, but I believe that the Chamber’s focus on the environment has led to a greater awareness of the need for all of us to move environmental protection, preservation and conservation to the top of the national agenda.’
CEO Wil Pineau said the Cayman Chamber had 676 corporate and associate members that employed 19,696 people.
‘Fifty-eight per cent of the members employ less than 10 employees, which represents the largest sector of our membership.’
Mr. Pineau said the Chamber Council served on many advisory boards so that the views and positions of the membership could be shared with legislators and business leaders.
Treasurer Wayne Cowan reported the Chamber’s financial position continued to rebound from the effects of Hurricane Ivan. After posting a net income of $9,737 for the 2005 calendar year, that amount nearly doubled to $18,504 in 2006. Even more impressively, the net income for the year ending 31 December 2007 was predicted to be $69,000, he said.
Mr. Tibbetts said the plan for 2008 was to build on the Chamber’s past successes and define specific measurable goals in four priority areas, including marketing and revenue; membership value; economic prosperity; and organisational performance.
One of the Chamber’s initiatives in marketing is to bridge the gaps between the more than 18 separate industry associations in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Tibbetts said.
‘As business leaders, we should be able to unite and share our concerns and work to develop solutions collectively rather than remaining isolated.’
With regard to membership value, Mr. Tibbetts said the Chamber planned to conduct economic studies to provide the council with credible information to support its public policy positions.
‘This data will underpin the council’s decision-making so that the Chamber is able to respond with a strong and unified voice on your behalf.’
Mr. Tibbetts said a Public Policy Review Committee would be established with the goal of creating a public policy agenda that clearly defined the Chamber’s position on such matters as economic growth, stay-over and cruise tourism, financial services, international regulation, business policies, immigration, workforce development, education and other issues.
In addition, a small business advisory committee is to be established to identify areas that impede small business development, Mr. Tibbetts said.
‘The committee will also be asked to recommend programmes and services that assist that sector,’ he said. ‘By encouraging small business growth, we set the stage for further economic development and prosperity for the Cayman Islands.’
Mr. Tibbetts said the Chamber would also monitor the national budget and spending priorities and outputs, and produce a pre-budget submission.
‘I believe the Chamber has a responsibility to monitor government spending,’ he said. ‘We should always remember that when a business invests in a new project, they are putting their capital at risk. When our government spends money on a new project, they are putting the public’s money at risk.’