An economic impact study completed by Deloitte concerning the proposed East End Seaport found that the excavation phase of the project would contribute US$182.6 million to the Cayman Islands economy between 2011 and 2017.
The study broke down the estimated economic impact by year and showed it to represent between 0.36 per cent and 1.13 per cent of the Cayman Islands Gross Domestic Product over the seven-year period. Over that time, the economic activity would represent a 9.5 per cent annual estimated contribution of the entire construction industry to Cayman’s GDP.
The economic impact was also broken down into direct and indirect impact. The direct impact, which relates to amounts spent on materials and services purchased from local suppliers, payroll for employees of the developer, and fees, duties and royalties paid to the government, is estimated to be US$133.3 million.
The various indirect impacts between 2011 and 2017 are estimated by the study to be US$49.3 million.
With regard to the direct impact on employment, the study estimated that 204 jobs would be created – 179 of them held by Caymanians – as a result of the project. The study also estimated an annual average of another 86 jobs being created indirectly.
The proposed 1,500 acre East End Seaport would consist of five elements, including a cruise ship home port, a commercial cargo port, a cargo transshipment facility, a hydrocarbon storage facility and a mega yacht marina.
The economic impact study, which was conducted for the seaport developer, City Services (Cayman) Ltd, looked only at the initial excavation phase of the project.
Another study looking at the economic impacts of the five elements of the seaport, focusing on the cargo transshipment facility and the cruise ship home port, is under way. Additionally, an environmental impact assessment is in progress. That report is expected in the early-to-mid portion of the first quarter of 2011.
A press release issued by the government on Thursday about the proposed seaport urged the public to become informed about the project.
“The country needs a long-term plan for a seaport that will serve the needs of the Cayman Islands 40 years and more into the future,” the release stated.
“The George Town port cannot provide for our long-term needs and the North Sound is not an alternative, as the people will not accept a port there.”
The press release raised the issue about whether the fresh water lens in East End would be affected by the excavation of the seaport basin. Developer Joe Imparato previously said that test drilling done to date has found only salt water under the proposed excavation area.
“Once we know that the water lens adjacent to the proposed East End Seaport will not be damaged, then that is the most appropriate location to develop a seaport,” stated the government’s press release. “The environmental impact assessment report will let us know what the situation is with the water lens.”
The release stated that Premier McKeeva Bush had no objections to the terms of reference of the environmental impact assessment being made public, and that after the assessment was completed, it would be discussed with the public.
Reached for comment Thursday, Mr. Bush said the findings of the economic impact study were indicative of the benefits the project would provide for Cayman and that the economic impacts of the seaport’s operations would be many times that generated during the excavation phase.
Mr. Bush said it was important to create other revenue streams for the Cayman Islands to help the country through future economic downturns.
“I have to plan for the future of this country,” he said.
Commenting on criticisms of East End legislator Arden McLean, who has initiated a petition against the proposed seaport, Mr. Bush said the people of East End should ask him why he was not giving any alternative locations for the port.
The developer of the proposed port has not yet made a formal proposal to government and is currently conducting a public information campaign about the project.