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(CNS Business): Members of the private sector have spent the last two years collaborating on the sticky issue of how to revive Cayman’s economic fortunes. Following an initiative developed by the local chamber of commerce in which five so-called “drivers” were identified back in 2010, representatives from government’s administrative arm and the business community have been coming up with ideas for the country’s future. Last week officials said that the progress made so far will soon be revealed and a forum is scheduled for November where the public will be invited to examine and contribute to the achievements so far as well as help in the push for future local economic development.
The second Future of Cayman Forum is set for 23 November, two years after the first talking shop, when the initiative was launched and a document about the country’s economic needs established. During that forum five shared goals, or drivers, were identified and public-private steering groups formed to discuss the way forward on each one. Business owners, managers and others came together with civil servants for regular meetings to discuss practical solutions to drive the economy forward.
Speaking at a press briefing last week, Chamber President David Kirkaldy said the future of Cayman was bigger than any one individual, which had driven the idea of collaboration and cooperation between the public and private sectors to find common ground and common goals to improve economic development.
Describing the Future of Cayman document that came out of the original forum as a “living, breathing” document that needed updating, Kirkaldy said the focus for the next forum would be on just two of the most pressing drivers.
How Cayman can “Develop Talent” and “Build a Smarter Infrastructure” were identified, he said, because of the significant growth in local unemployment and several proposed projects that are on the table.
“Unemployment numbers are quite startling,” Kirkaldy said, adding that there was a pressing need to up-skill the existing workforce and prepare students for the workplace.
Shayne Howe from Phoenix construction, a steering committee chairman, said the advent of the Dart projects, Dr Devi Shetty’s health city and the proposed cruise berthing facilities in George Town will all impact the islands infrastructure at a time when government was short on cash, which meant that too deserved particular attention.
The other three drivers which the steering groups are still working on but will not be the focus of this Forum are ‘Create a business Friendly Environment’, ‘Diversify the Economy’ and ‘Enhance the quality of Life’.
Given the current economic climate, however, with rising unemployment, the continued struggle for small and medium enterprises, the development of new economic pillars still a distant goal, a decline in the quality of life for most and no overall future development plan for Cayman, the drivers identified by the Chamber don’t appear to have had yielded any significant impact on the country’s stalled economy at this stage.
With no one present at the briefing from the political wing of the administration, though the Chamber present was quick to insist that the UDP administration was supportive of the initiative, the deputy governor represented the government. Franz Manderson said the public sector recognised that it could not solve the country’s economic problems on its own. “We need to partner with organisations like the Chamber,” the head of the civil service added.
The November forum will take place at The Ritz-Carlton, which will include presentations and speeches on the progress of the initiative, as well as so-called “breakout sessions” where participants can choose one of the two drivers to join in the discussions and bring their ideas to the table.
For more details visit the Future of Cayman website.
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