Although a steadily increasing number of clients have been lining up for Enterprise City since enabling legislation was approved more than four years ago, the zone’s journey has not been without its share of twists and turns.
In January 2011, then-Premier McKeeva Bush and then-zone developer Barry Hon were pictured on the front page of the Compass, shaking hands after they signed a memorandum of understanding to create “a special economic zone focused on technologies.”
Enterprise City would open its doors for business a little more than a year later, issuing licenses and providing operating space to client companies in rented accommodations. The zone has been cranking along until now, when it has enough listed businesses (180 of them) to fill one of two five-story “gateway” office buildings on its proposed campus.
During the past five years, Mr. Bush has been succeeded by current Premier Alden McLaughlin; Mr. Hon’s development company stepped away from the project; and Charlie Kirkconnell stepped in as Enterprise City CEO, replacing Jason Blick (who can be considered the “founder” of the zone here in Cayman).
Several faces are familiar, including architect Cindy O’Hara, who is chairman of the board and chief development officer for the zone, Hilary McKenzie-Cahill, who is VP of marketing, and Mr. Kirkconnell, who initially joined the zone in late 2011 in an operations role.
In addition to personnel moves, the planned location for Enterprise City has also shifted. In early 2012, the zone’s campus was set to be built in Savannah, following the developers’ acquisition of 45 acres in the Bodden Town district community. That proposal didn’t work out, and Savannah’s loss became South Sound’s gain.
Make no mistake, the arrival of Enterprise City should be a boon — not a burden — to the surrounding area, which is currently characterized by empty swamp land and residential developments (and the Fairbanks women’s prison).
If the Enterprise City campus is constructed according to plan, pending official scrutiny and the necessary approvals, the zone’s headquarters should grow “organically,” as Ms. O’Hara puts it, over the next several decades. The presence of Enterprise City will provide that area of South Sound with a sort of “anchor tenant” providing employment, opportunities and increases in property value to the zone’s neighbors.
If developed properly, there is no reason to think that the Enterprise City campus will offer anything but benefits to existing and future residents nearby. A sign of mature economies, and companies, is the creation of friendly, inviting and open spaces that are friendly to visitors while oriented toward businesses. (See, for example, Camana Bay.)
As the physical home of Enterprise City springs, slowly, from the ground, it should grow in conjunction with the establishment of public infrastructure in the area, most notably the bypass road that is planned to run east to west, parallel to Linford Pierson Highway and South Sound Road.
We hope, and trust, that Enterprise City will be a good neighbor to South Sound residents, and continue to be a good citizen of the Cayman Islands business community.