Cayman Enterprise City wins six free zone awards

The Financial Times’ fDi Magazine has recognised Cayman Enterprise City for the second consecutive year in its Global Free Zones of the Year Awards.

Cayman’s special economic zone competed against 85 free zones from around the world and won six bespoke awards for expansions, facilities upgrades, red tape reduction, skills development, diversity initiatives and development of technology.

“We are honoured to receive six globally recognised awards for our efforts to become a home for innovation and centre of excellence where global business thrives,” said Charlie Kirkconnell, CEC’s chief executive officer, in a press release.

“We are particularly honoured to receive bespoke awards for our skills development and diversity initiatives, which are designed to ensure that everyone has access to quality learning experiences and opportunities to pursue dynamic careers available within our growing special economic zones.”

Charlie Kirkconnell, CEC’s chief executive officer

Skills development, CEC said, has been a focus since the special economic zone’s inception in 2011. With 250 companies in the zone, there has been growing demand to upskill Cayman’s local workforce.

CEC has launched several initiatives for Caymanians and residents wishing to pursue technology-driven careers and secure available opportunities with Cayman’s zone companies.

Programmes include an online jobs portal, code-education initiatives, school visits, technology-focussed events and discussions, STEM programming, special economic zone mentorships, work placements for career changers, and an annual internship programme.

In 2018, CEC helped launch “Women Code Cayman”, which was initiated by a special economic zone community member and has grown through a partnership between CEC, the Cartan Group, the Ministry of Community Affairs and Walkers.

The initiative aims to support women in technology to become contributors to Cayman’s digital economy and to empower them to pursue creative technology-driven careers. The programme has been incorporated as a not-for-profit and has extended the initiative to include a youth code camp.

This summer, 15 university and high school level students took part in  CEC’s annual internship programme. The internships give students hands-on experience and career knowledge working within a variety of fields that make up Cayman Enterprise City’s individual zones. “It’s amazing that our Caymanian youth are being exposed to such high calibre, cutting edge businesspeople that have an interest in sharing their expertise,” said Jacqueline Schofield, parent of Noah Schofield who took part in a 2018 mentorship placement with Mark Hall at Spark Limited SEZC. “I truly believe the opportunities that the CEC Enterprise Cayman programme offers surpasses that of which students are able to access abroad.”

Cayman Enterprise City won the bespoke award for facilities upgrades and expansions for the development of its campus. Construction of the 53-acre mixed-use US$38 million development began last year with the official groundbreaking in November 2018. The campus will feature 1 million square feet of office space, residences, restaurants and amenities.

“The master-planned campus will showcase environmental architecture and designs to encourage socialisation and collaboration unlike anything seen in the Caribbean,” Kirkconnell said, calling it CEC’s “most significant milestone” since opening for business in February 2012.

“We have worked tirelessly to promote CEC and the Cayman Islands as an ideal base for conducting international business, as well as to support businesses that have established zone companies, so that they can focus on growth and innovation.”

Premier Alden McLaughlin said the campus will attract new companies and diversify the economy. “The real major contribution is the potential that this campus offers to our Islands when it is completed and filled with exciting and thriving new businesses,” he said.