East End candidates target jobs, economy

One thing is for sure in the East End. The district will have an independent named McLean as its member of the legislative assembly. 

Whether it will be incumbent Arden McLean or challenger Johnnie McLean Jr. remains to be determined. 

Both candidates have targeted unemployment and economic opportunity as the key areas to be addressed. 

Here, we take a look at their views on this and other major issues facing the district. 

 

John McLean Jr.  

Tackling unemployment, providing better facilities and activities for young people and creating new business opportunities in the East End are among the priorities for Johnnie McLean Jr. 

The independent candidate for the district of the East End also wants to establish a market for local craftsmen, fishermen and farmers in the east. 

He said there were up to 1,000 tourists a week in the district, from the two hotels and visitors from other parts of Grand Cayman – a relatively untapped market for local traders. 

Johnnie said he is concerned about the level of unemployment across the country and particularly in East End.  

The latest Labour Force Survey showed there were 1,925 Caymanians listed as unemployed. 

Johnnie estimates that around 100 of them live in his district. He said 57 people had signed up for his unemployment registration drive in January. But he believes that when those who did not show are factored in the figure would be much higher. 

“I know from 2010-2012 when I was project manager for the PRIDE beach clean-up that government did, we had an average of around 100 people involved. 

“Unemployment is a major issue in the district. Reducing unemployment goes hand in hand with one of my other priorities – reducing crime.” 

One of his ideas to help alleviate the problem and to bring money into the East End is to create an authentic craft market at the site of the Wreck of the Ten Sails. 

“I think we can capitalise on the approximately 1,000 tourists that are in the East End every week. If every tourist spent $20 at the craft market, then instantly that is $20,000 going into the East End economy.” 

He said the market could become a hub for fishing trips, snorkelling tours and land tours to district landmarks. 

He believes that should go hand in hand with a campaign to bring more events to the district. 

“I’d like to work closely with the Department of Tourism to bring more concerts and things like that to the East End. 

“Currently we have Pirate’s Week and we have the bonfire. I see no reason why we couldn’t have something every month to bring people out here.” 

Johnnie has also targeted the creation of a farmers and fisherman’s market for East Enders as a priority. He wants to encourage a regrowth in local agriculture and work with restaurants in the district to ensure they buy local. 

Nationally, Johnnie says he would push for a new focus on training young people to be involved in trades and in the tourism industry. 

He believes there could be plenty of job opportunities for unemployed East Enders at the two large hotels in the district. 

“We need to tighten the belt. The hotels are getting countless new work permits. We need to encourage them to take young Caymanians and train them. 

“There is no reason why we should have unemployment in the Cayman Islands.” 

Johnnie said he is also concerned that there is not enough for young people in East End to do. He wants to see a multi-purpose sports facility built in the district and would try to work with the private sector to make it happen. 

He says he would seek similar solutions to upgrade the Sunrise Centre seniors facility. 

 

Arden McLean  

Jobs, the economy and related social issues are the key areas in need of action, according to Arden McLean, the current MLA for the East End. 

He believes the Shetty Hospital development will present many opportunities for economic growth in the district. 

While the building project will mean construction jobs for locals, the long-term effect of the hospital’s presence in the East End could have a knock-on benefit for the economy. 

Arden wants to see changes to the zoning regulations to help businesses and landlords take advantage of new opportunities created by the medical tourism facility. 

“I will also encourage East Enders to build apartments to take advantage of the opportunities from Health City.” 

He said there should be more commercially zoned areas around the health city site. 

He has also targeted the tourism industry as a potential growth area for small businesses. 

“Concerted efforts will be directed towards improved economic opportunities, including encouraging the development of tourist related facilities and small businesses.” 

Using the Clifton Hunter High School in the evenings for adult education is another target for Arden. 

“The economy is one of the main things we need to work on. We need to create jobs. When people are unemployed they get antsy and it can lead to other social issues. 

“This is not unique to the East End.” 

He has targeted the establishment of a minimum wage and the restructuring of immigration and labour policies as ways of ensuring Caymanians have better job opportunities. 

On a local level, he is concerned about truancy, and activities for young people. 

“We need to make sure kids are not missing school. We also need to make sure there are things for them to do after school. There are good programmes for the primary school children but there is not enough for high school students.” 

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