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Published 2nd September 2020, 2:32pm

Grand Cayman - In keeping with Government’s strategic priority to support small and micro business businesses across the Cayman Islands to succeed, Commerce Minister Hon. Joey Hew officially opened the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development (CICBD) today, Tuesday, September 1.

The event was attended by Governor Martyn Roper; Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin; Deputy Governor Hon. Franz Manderson; Deputy Premier Hon. Moses Kirkconnell; Minister of Public Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Roy McTaggart; Minister of Financial Services and Home Affairs, Hon. Tara Rivers as well as representatives of the public and private sectors.

Located at the Baytown Plaza on West Bay Road, the CICBD started to operate virtually in March to respond to the needs of small businesses during the pandemic. Business advisors conducted daily virtual coaching and training sessions focusing on business continuity for many micro and small business owners impacted by COVID-19.

The sessions focused on areas such as cash flow management, business impact analysis and transitioning businesses online for entrepreneurs who needed to redesign or re-tool their business models.

The Centre also coordinated Government relief measures which was allocated to support the micro and small business grant programme, a low interest loan programme as well as technical and training programmes.

Minister Hew in his remarks stated that one of Government’s major strategic priorities is 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. 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”, he stated.

Minister Hew further noted, “Over the past months, government has allocated over $14 million to support micro and small business, we extended the small business incentive programme, and temporarily waived trade and business licensing application fees for new businesses and renewals as well as late fees with total value of $375,000. “With the launch of the CICBD, we are working in a concrete and targeted way, through a new phase of support that will benefit Caymanians and build our economy”.

Cabinet has approved the use of remaining micro and small business grant programme funds for a medium term economic package to the small business sector which will support a minimum of three hundred businesses that are assessed as competitive post COVID-19.

The new phase of support for micro and small business will cover wage, digital enablement, commercial rent assistance, business process innovation grants and customized business continuity plans for micro and small business across the Islands.

Director of the CICBD, Althea West-Myers said the Centre’s opening has been long in the making. “Today we are heralding an idea whose time has come. The critical role that Cayman’s SME’s 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. It is not surprising therefore that the establishment and promotion of small businesses have been given strategic importance by this government,” she said.

The Centre will house offices for several business advisors, a training room, and a residential business incubator for twelve start-ups for up to a period of two years with no charge to them.

Members of the public interested in accessing the support of the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development, may call 244-8009 or email CICBD@gov.ky.