Commerce Minister Joey Hew officially opened the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development on Tuesday.
Located at Baytown Plaza on West Bay Road, the centre started virtually in March to respond to the needs of small businesses during the pandemic.
Business advisors conducted daily virtual coaching and training sessions on business continuity for many small-business owners impacted by COVID-19.
The sessions covered cash flow management, business impact analysis and transitioning companies online for entrepreneurs who needed to redesign or retool their business models.
The centre also coordinated government-relief measures such as the micro and small-business grant programme, a low-interest loan initiative as well as related technical and training programmes.
In his address, Hew said one of government’s major strategic priorities was supporting entrepreneurship and harnessing the creativity of Caymanians to build innovative and sustainable businesses.
“The establishment of the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development is an acknowledgement by this Government of the importance of small businesses here in these Islands,” Hew said in a press release. “The global pandemic has made the Centre’s mandate of improving and proving the economic value of small businesses in the Islands even more urgent.”
Over the past months, government allocated more than $14 million to support micro and small businesses and extended the small-business incentive programme. Hew said government also temporarily waived trade and business licensing application fees for new businesses and renewals as well as late fees, with a total value of $375,000.
Cabinet has approved the use of the remaining untapped micro- and small-business grant programme funds for a medium-term economic package to the small-business sector. This will support a minimum of 300 businesses that are assessed as competitive post-COVID-19.
The new phase of support for micro and small business will cover wages, digital enablement, commercial rent assistance, business-process innovation grants and customised business-continuity plans for micro and small businesses across the Islands.
Althea West-Myers, the director of the Centre for Business Development, said the opening has been long in the making.
“The critical role that Cayman’s SMEs [small and medium enterprises] will play in bringing these Islands back to global competitiveness cannot be overstated. For the economy to survive and thrive, the sector and the ecosystem in which it exists must be stimulated,” she said.
The centre will house offices for several business advisors, a training room, and a residential business incubator for 12 start-ups for up to two years without charge.
Members of the public interested in accessing the support of the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development, may call 244-8009 or email [email protected]