Autumn looms and Cayman contemplates the last quarter of 2012, looking to a new year, springtime elections, and an ongoing and increasingly heated debate of options for the country’s future.
While critical, the political contest is only a backdrop to the broader conversation of how to build that future. An articulate leadership can forge the path, but what candidate opposes the hope for sustainable prosperity and for unity of effort to achieve it?
November 23 is likely to energise the discussion of that future when the Chamber of Commerce and the Cayman Islands Government host the “2012 Future of Cayman Forum”, a one-day gathering of business and political luminaries, top civil servants and community leaders.
The event, which is being limited to 200 people, is another step along a path initially marked out by the Chamber two years ago at its first forum and summarised in its 2010 Future of Cayman Strategic Report, a broad social and economic consensus that identified five crucial areas of focus.
The result of months of research, the five critical “drivers” comprised a list of elements deemed essential to Cayman’s economic recovery and ongoing success. They call on a government-industry partnership to develop talent, create a business-friendly climate, diversify the economy, enhance the quality of life and build a smarter infrastructure.
An action plan and a set of objectives accompanied each driver, along with key performance indicators, was established to measure each group’s progress.
“We felt it was critical to chart the successes achieved, enabling everyone to see where effort had been rightly focused and where, perhaps, we might better deploy our resources,” says Chamber of Commerce CEO Wil Pineau, one of the principal figures in the Future of Cayman initiative.
“This is a collective effort, and everyone needs to understand quickly and clearly where the partnership stands.”
Government leaders, including the premier, ministers and chief officers – many co-chairing the committees overseeing each driver group–were invited to participate and an MOU between the Chamber and the Government was signed in July 2011.
“The upcoming 2012 November forum–to be held at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman–will have a slightly different format, being open to a wider group of participants, and will feature only two of the identified drivers: Develop Talent and Build a Smarter Infrastructure,” indicated steering committee Chairman Shayne Howe.
“The uncertainty of the international economy compel nations to boost both their competitiveness and attractiveness in order to prosper,” Howe said.
“As such, it is incumbent on us to develop and implement new strategies to achieve our goals.” The 2010 Future of Cayman underlined human capital as the foundation of the develop talent driver, “not only in support of current key operating industries but also in preparation of future industries”.
As Manderson, working hand-in-hand with the premier, the governor and the UK, seek to deliver budget-led commitments to trim Cayman’s civil service during the next five years, the need will grow for broad-based investment in retraining, acquisition of new skills, private-sector expansion, lifetime learning and reassignment.
The driver involves the growth of UCCI, spurred by the Narayana Hospital and medical university project in East End and the need for qualified medical staff, trained technicians and other skilled labour; it calls for liaison among government and private-sector entities and discussions among scholarship providers to create an improved educational and developmental experience.
In broad brush, the driver calls on industry to participate in ensuring young people are prepared to join the workforce through work placement, apprenticeships, internships and work experience.
At the same time, as the forum’s public-private partnership seeks to develop Cayman’s human resources for a sustainable future, it must also look toward a smarter infrastructure, starting with a response to long-standing calls for a national infrastructure plan.
The forum first seeks to prioritise major infrastructure projects, taking full account of funding and timelines. Partnerships with the private sector are likely to take cognisance of all three issues, while simultaneously creating myriad opportunities for training and employment and work for dozens of local contractors.
One significant model for this concept is Government’s partnership with the Dart Corporation in the ForCayman Investment Alliance, which involves swaps of land, duty concessions and expedited building approvals in exchange for billion-dollar investments in hotels, roads, parks, schools, beaches and a modern waste-management facility.
Other examples are Cayman Enterprise City, a conglomerate of global business and educational facilities in a multi-acre special economic zone adjacent to Bodden Town, set to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in international investment.
These, combined with the Narayana medical complex, will likely spur associated improvements in telecommunications, roads, the port and airport, building technology, sewerage systems, waste management, delivery of utilities, and possibly competition-led advances in medical treatment.
Port expansion, although still facing certain hurdles, promises debt-free development, a long-term boost to cruise tourism, cargo-handling and related industries and plenty of local jobs.
The 23 November forum will include appearances by top political and business leaders and will also heavily features two breakout sessions, examining in detail the options and opportunities implicit in these two crucial drivers.
An end-of-day session will reunite the breakout participants for a unified overview and summing up, looking toward the future.
Already previous partners in the Future of Cayman initiative, such as IBM, The Caymanian Compass, The Phoenix Group and PwC, have signed up to endorse the 2012 forum; as well as new sponsors, including Tower Marketing. A series of event sponsorships, ranging from $1,500 through to $8,000, are widely available for local businesses seeking a presence and profile at the forum.
“We hope to gain a degree of unanimity, but more importantly, a general sense of how important these issues are, and not just to social, political and business leaders, but, surely, to everyone – resident, citizen, investor, consumer, expatriate or Caymanian. In a sense, these particular drivers underpin the others, and we would like to come away with a shared vision, a blueprint for the future. We want to stimulate informed debate, to foster a recognition that the future is, in fact, upon us now.”
For further information, please visit www.futureofcaymanforum.ky