It is both an honour and privilege to serve as the 29th president of the Chamber of Commerce and I look forward to working with the Chamber Council and staff to accomplish some key objectives in 2011.
My focus is simple this year because almost our entire advocacy agenda will be directed at the Future of Cayman Forum economic development initiative. This has become an excellent opportunity for a meeting of the minds for both the public and private sectors in order that we can address the many challenges facing the Cayman Islands both today and tomorrow. With Government endorsing this initiative we are able to access the very best talent from both public and private sectors allowing for the greatest amount of knowledge and experience to be pooled collectively. This is a great start on the road to long term solutions.
The Council and I will work to implement the objectives and actions that were identified by the five driver groups at the Future of Cayman Forum on 11 November, 2010. A full report will be issued in the next CHAMBER magazine issue that will allow our whole country to share in the ongoing plan for our country. A mid-term and annual report will also be produced and the second forum will be held during the last quarter of 2011. A website supported by IBM will become an important tool that will provide our whole community with an opportunity to share in the progress of the results of the forum. It will also include key performance indicators that will measure the results of our actions so we can all see the immediate benefits and be inspired.
The drivers from this initiative were born primarily from feedback from our membership via the State of Business Survey that went out in May. Your experiences and concerns have led us on the path to change, which for me is exactly what the Chamber is here for. You speak, we listen and together we provide solutions. I would like to see the silos in our beautiful Islands torn down and a forging of closer partnerships with the common goal of prosperity and sustainability for our people. We all want what is best for Cayman. We now must work together to make that happen.
Another focus for the Council will be to find ways to lower the cost of doing business. We know this is a huge issue for many business owners at the moment and I hope that by using the size of our membership for ‘buying power’ we may be able to secure lower health and property insurance rates for Chamber members.
We will also continue to lobby Government to lower the cost of doing business and seek revenue in other ways already recommended by the Chamber in September 2009.
We will also be reviewing our Memorandum and Articles of Association this year, which has been amended fewer than five times since 1965. It is good document; but like anything, there is a need to evaluate its terms so that it is serving the needs of a changing environment, particularly in the area of succession planning on the Chamber Council. The report will be completed next year and shared with the membership.
The move to our new offices in Governor’s Square is one of the steps in the organisation’s strategic plan, which was adopted in late 2008. That plan called for the investigation of a new permanent home for the Chamber. While we have signed a three year lease with an option to extend to five years, we can use this time to review funding options to determine whether the Chamber can be in a position to consider moving into its own building. We will be consulting with different community based organisations to determine whether there is any synergy that can be created by such a project.
The last item on my agenda would be to organise another Trade Mission for 2011. Identifying new trading partners is crucial for Cayman’s ongoing success. It was in 2006 that we initiated our first trade mission to Panama. Both Government officials and Chamber members supported the trip and hundreds of local businesses benefited from the three subsequent trade missions, which has opened new trade links within Central America. Asia has become an important trading partner for most of the world and the Chamber intends to investigate whether trade missions to India and China would be appealing to our membership.
Both of these locations hold tremendous business potential for the Cayman Islands.
We have a lot to look forward to in 2011 and I pledge to do my very best to live up to the outstanding past presidents who have served before me. I look forward to working with Wil and the Chamber staff to turn these aspirations in to achievements. We are your council and therefore we encourage your feedback on our work throughout the year and hope that many of our members will find the time to contribute their knowledge and experience in some way.