Cayman Enterprise City is “slowly gaining traction” despite being about four months behind schedule, according to Chief Executive Officer Jason Blick.
Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Cayman Islands Society of Professional Accountants, Mr. Blick said the company has an active tenant base of nine to 10 companies, while 17 companies are going through the licensing process. In addition, CEC is working with another 120 companies.
The special economic zone operator is also expecting delegations from North America and Europe during the next month, including joint venture partner Dubai Multi-Commodity Centre and one of Europe’s largest petrochemical giants, Mr. Blick said.
The construction of the special economic zone facilities will begin with an 18,000-square-foot building in Savannah. While the master plan for this development is ready to be submitted to the Planning Department, the company is about four months behind schedule, said Mr. Blick, adding that the precise location of the building is going to be revealed in about three weeks.
To be able to attract foreign direct investment during the construction phase of two to three years, CEC has leased five properties around George Town.
Mr. Blick outlined the advantages of a knowledge-based special economic zone in the Cayman Islands over the “antiquated” engineering and manufacturing product focused zones in the region. Specifically, he named common law precedent, the stability of a British Overseas Territory, an existing professional services network of accountants and lawyers and the timezone as the most important factors.
“We have no competition, our nearest competitor is in Dublin,” Mr. Blick said.
The concessions offered by CEC, such as a 50 year tax exemption guarantee, and exemption from import duties and work permits, put it in the top 1 per cent of concessions for special economic zones in the world, he said.
These concession are needed, he said, given that companies like IBM or Oracle which tried to relocate to Cayman in recent years had to pull out “because it was too complicated and too expensive”. The new special economic zone would overcome these problems.
CEC concentrates on six sectors, information technology, media, biotechnology, derivatives, commodities, outsourcing, that have been successful in knowledge based special economic zones.
In particular, the technology and commodity sphere are the areas CEC is focusing on at the moment, Mr. Blick said. “These people move very quickly, they are adaptable,” he said.
On the media side, CEC is working with four global production companies that want to move operations to Cayman for tax and royalty purposes, but also to look at film financing, given that hedge funds focused on film investments are also based in the Cayman Islands.