What is the source of prosperity in the Cayman Islands?
Well, it’s not an overabundance of natural resources such as loamy farmland or rich mineral deposits, or a strategic geographical location at the crossroads of trade.
It’s certainly not the government … though one could perhaps be forgiven for being misled into that belief, based on statements and promises issuing from the mouths of certain politicians in advance of the May 24 elections.
As any economist, entrepreneur or impartial observer will tell you, the so-called “engine of the economy” is in fact the private sector – in other words, ordinary private citizens like us who live, work and spend money in our beloved islands. That doesn’t mean the public sector doesn’t have vital functions to fulfill, for example: helping to make the economy more efficient by streamlining bureaucratic processes; keeping Cayman an attractive place for residents and investors by ensuring public safety and health; preparing young people through robust education to participate fully in Cayman’s economic banquet; and even allowing for the creation of brand-new business opportunities through enabling legislation.
But when the pedal hits the metal, the force propelling our country forward is, ultimately, generated by the activity of Cayman’s businesses and the people who work for them. It only makes sense that as we steer the economic course of our country, private sector leaders – not public officials – are the ones calling out the directions and sitting in the driver’s seat.
With candidates vying for votes over the next six weeks, it is a fortuitous time for the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce to launch its “Growth Matters” initiative, which aims “to explain how our economy works and why growth is so important for our community.” (You can think of it as “counterprogramming” to campaign narratives … as the “antidote” to political speech … or, perhaps most accurately, as factual information.)
The educational initiative began last Wednesday with the debut of 10 animated short films (about 2-3 minutes apiece) that tackle topics such as “What is the economy?”; “Where does money come from?”; “Understanding our economy”; “When companies do well, everybody does well”; “How economic growth improves living standards”; “Growing our local economy”; “Growing our international economy”; and “How government helps our economy grow.”
The lessons from the videos are plain, simple and fundamental. The private sector is the primary source of wealth in Cayman. The two most important industries in Cayman are financial services and tourism, which enrich the country as a whole by bringing in wealth from overseas. There are two ways to grow our economy: by increasing individual incomes, or by increasing the population. If our international businesses cannot recruit and hire the employees they need, eventually they will pack up and move away, taking all their resources and job opportunities with them.
The films will be shown to Cayman residents of all ages, and hopefully will become absorbed into the “common knowledge” of the community. (You can view them at www.growthmatters.ky.)
As a proud sponsor of Growth Matters, Pinnacle Media (parent company of the Cayman Compass) would like to congratulate Chamber president Kyle Broadhurst on the initiative, and we’d like to single out for special recognition CML CEO Steve McIntosh, who conceived the idea and steered the films through the production process.
For the purposes of this editorial, we will borrow the conclusion from the Chamber’s 10th and final film: “We know that a thriving economy is not the end goal. The end goal is a society in which our people are safe, happy and healthy; a community that lives in harmony; a community in which everybody has the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams; a community that stands together to overcome its challenges instead of being overcome by them.”