Airport bid ruled out small business, says CISBA

| 22/10/2018 | 59 Comments
Cayman Islands Small Business Association, Cayman News Service

ORIA departure lounge, artist’s rendition

(CNS): The president of the Cayman Islands Small Business Association (CISBA) says the arduous and costly process to bid on concessions at the renovated Owen Roberts International Airport excluded small businesses before they even tried. Dawn McLean-Brady told CNS that the process required reams of paperwork to be completed and professional assistance to do it, all of which could cost thousand of dollars, meaning most small businesses simply could not compete. As a result, the airport has not made any provision for smaller ‘mom and pop’ local businesses that could have added a Cayman flavour.

Pleased that at least Island Taste will be offering food, she said she was disappointed that an effort was not made to reserve perhaps just two of the units that could be shared by local crafters or small business owners to offer something more unique to shoppers. But the requirements for the tender, including architectural designs and the fit-out of the stores, even before the costly rents are considered, made it impossible for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to be involved.

McLean-Brady said she was very disappointed that government could not have found a way to help smaller enterprises gain access, given that the current administration campaigned on helping small business and reducing red tape.

“I really do not believe anyone gave any thought to how small businesses could have been involved in this,” she said.

The bid winners at the airport were revealed last week, and the food and retail concessions went to well-known franchises Wendy’s and Subway, as well as Island Taste and the Brew Hut. There are no crafters or artisans in the retail winners, with regular duty-free retailers Kirk Freeport, Island Jewellers, Bodden Freeport, Tortuga Rum, Jacques Scott, Last Chance Island Souvenirs and Churchill Cigars securing the shops, most of which already had the concessions before the renovation and several who will have more than one unit.

Brady said that given the disadvantage that smaller retailers have when it comes to competitive bidding, government needed to step in and help.

“We would have liked more discussion and we were hoping the government would have seen our concern, and the end result is that there are no small businesses at the new airport and an opportunity to promote home-grown enterprise was missed.”

The Cayman Islands Airport Association has defended the bidding process, which officials there have described as “fair and transparent”, though the tenders were embroiled in controversy from the beginning, with the airport missing its own deadlines on the process.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Tourism, Transport

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There are based on the job description some pretty good employment opportunities as “airport customer service ambasadiors” advertised in the paper today.

    Curious, these jobs… aren’t jobs.

    They are for “self employed independant contractors”.

    So the airport will be avoiding all the standard employment requirements.

    They won’t pay overtime, pension, medical, sick days, holidays, notice or severance.

    This is a slap in the face to Cayman’s employers and employees alike.

  2. Anonymous says:

    But wait ? Isn’t all this development aimed at helping small businesses ?

  3. Anonymous says:

    What does the Minister for small businesses have to say about it?

    Also, why did they allow one company to operate more than 1 space? Instead of offering the space to another business.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How jealous are the commentors. You all want to stay in the Cayman Islands, but you are too jealous of the competent government being successful all the time.

    Look at education, construction, finance, it all win win win here. If you are not winning its because you are spending too much time thinking of the winners and not being a winner yourself…loser.

  5. Anonymous says:

    4:30pm that is right. Let us do it like how the people do it in the poorer countries such as Jamaica, Honduras, Cuba and Niaguara. Shut the rich out of busines that the cannot even afford too keep the A/C on because they will not be able too afford to pay the electricity bill. Let us turn Grand Cayman back too a ghost town and we now have enough mosquitos. Please remember now we will not able to keep our doors and windows open anymore. Just use a piece of card for a hand fan or take a nice bath before you go to sleep. We had to do it after hurricane Ivan so why cannot we do it again. Let us show those greedy all for themselves acting lodge, mafia’s, cartel’s what we can do.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Really, Oh come on now! For such a public facility project do you expect small businesses to have a presence with the huge public liability insurance required etc bearing in mind the high volumes of traffic? Let’s get real, where are the tourists predominant from and what is their inclination?

    • Anonymous says:

      We’ll know their reaction soon enough. Even if they can fill their stomachs they are not likely to be impressed. This was one way we could add value to a Cayman vacation and the usual people failed to do that.

  7. Anonymous says:

    after years of being ripped off by ‘mom&pop’ stores in cayman…i for one, am glad they have not made into the airport.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dawn Brady is that Dawn Sawney?

  9. Denver says:

    All airport business are a royal rip off because of the rent they charge . I just paid $11 for a Blue moon beeer in Miami . Made in America

    • Anonymous says:

      More so it’s supply and demand. You’re stuck inside so they can charge what they want. Just like gas in cayman… we’re stuck on this island so they can charge what they what. Rip off artists.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I wish Tortuga could sell their Tastee patties in there. Sucks that IT continues to have the monopoly on patties

  11. Anonymous says:

    Please note, unattended bags will be “coffin-skated”…

  12. Mikey says:

    The same Gov. we vote in let us down… u talk we vote we get the worst outcomes. do whateva unneh want with Cayman you can even change the name to “Cayboy” you might get more ships in the harbor and less green iguanaz for a name change.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Small businesses? There are no place for small businesses in Cayman. We keep forgetting that those who are born with lots pf privileges look after one another. Just look at the Cruise Piers and observer closely how the anti-port cult group are all affiliated by family or business connections. Think they care about the poor local poor ass man and woman who make a living by working as a sole business owner?

    • OLD Caymanian Captain says:

      Anonymous 4 : 43pm , have you ever started or seen a business be started up ? But for you to make a statement like that, I have to really wonder if you have any concept of starting a business . But just imagine if government told you that there’s no place in Cayman for SMALL BUSINESSES . What would you say and do ?

      You can learn how to write a comment, if you stop trying to write , and start reading how other people write a comment and think about what you’re reading to understand it . A tip to know if it could be an intelligent comment is look at the thumbs up for the comment . And remember only read intelligent comments .

    • Anonymous says:

      I care about poor local ass!

  14. Anonymous says:

    For God’s sake people, why do you have to whine about everything? They gave it to the ones who were willing to pay the most for it. The more money government gets from them the less they will require from you and I.

    When you have an early morning flight set your alarm one hour earlier than you have been doing and make your own coffee and breakfast before going to the airport, and take a sandwich with you if you have to. If it’s not an early morning flight then purchase take out food from Foster’s or Subway in the industrial park before going to the airport.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I find it ridiculous that the tourism authorities who tout the slogan “Cayman kind ” would give concessions to Wendy’s and Subway over deserving small and medium sized businesses who were eliminate by unreasonable legal and bureaucratic hurdles.
    Perhaps the powers that make these outlandish decisions should reflect upon this truism .

    “The most dangerous persons in any society are those who realize that they have nothing to lose .”

    • Anonymous says:

      If you can’t afford design and blueprints for the space you want, the airport is not really the best place for you. There’s more to it than a stall at the craft market.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wendy’s, Subway, Island Taste, etc are all owned by Caymanian families. Why are we squabbling about them winning a bid if they are willing to fork out the capital investment to do so??

  16. Anonymous says:

    Who operated Hungry Horse? Because it was a disgrace. Cynical, third rate food and service.

    • Anonymous says:

      Island taste operated Hungry Horse only now by going under island taste I assume they will now offer cooked meals at high way robbery prices

      • Anonymous says:

        I never understood why there were always droves of people leisurely dining at the Horse over the years , at all hours. Who actually catches the 7 am to MIA with planning to sit down for breakfast , before getting on the flight? Travellers now are on the move at a rapid pace, with no time to sit down at table service to dine .Subway and Wendys is called Fast Food for a reason, makes perfect sense for the new ORIA.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well, you have to check in far in advance is why. We take the courtesy van to George Town YC after checking in.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Who is the Brew Hut for?

  18. Anonymous says:

    CNS, was there ever a link to the RFP published? It would give the readers of this article a real understanding of how the process was engineered to eliminate small business.

    CNS: The CIAA website has a link for RFPs but the one for concessions is no longer there.

  19. Ron Ebanks says:

    People is this the government that you elected to represent ALL PEOPLES big and small businesses ? By all the paper work /bureaucracy and thousands of dollars that Ms McLean-Brady said that is needed to bid for a space /concession , maybe she could explain to the public , why do a person rich or poor have to go through such a process

  20. Anonymous says:

    No surprises here!

    • Anonymous says:

      2:15 It’s a repeat of the Royal Watler Terminal leases. Businesses only got in there with the right connections.

  21. Food Odious Food! says:

    I firmly beleive if we have to put up with Wendy’s and Subway we will alll need to behave like a herd of Hungry Horses.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Seems fine to me. What were people expecting, it is an airport food court?

    We cater primarily to American tourists so the choice seems logical and no different then most other airports.

    I like Subway and Wendys as do millions of others, hence their success in the industry.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Owen Roberts didn’t need a stinky multi-pronged food court of Wendy’s and Subways, and the memory of the Cayman Islands product isn’t strengthened by their inclusion. Another missed opportunity to do something positive by CIAA, DoT, Moses et al.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Memory of the Cayman Islands product”? So you mean that the end should be like the rest, first tier prices for third tier products?

  24. Mike says:

    I am utterly amazed that some of these retail spots were given to businesses that already have concessions at the same airport! How utterly inconsiderate of small businesses who needed that break. How do they expect an economy to grow by feeding the already fat businesses instead of an enterprising start up? I smell fish!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Standard operating procedure for this United pro-obscurance regime.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully someone will offer regular canned and bottled items…….soda and water. I can’t believe Coke and Diet Coke and water were never offered at a store and just a vending machine.

  27. Anonymous says:

    what happened to the massive restaurant and bar space? there was a request for bids for this/??

  28. Anonymous says:

    Considering how long it has taken to reach this point one would have hoped for a better outcome.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Again, this sucks. Wish something like Cimboco could have gone in. At least we’d get good food and could sit down and be served instead of paying a service charge to get your own crappy food out of a glass case.

    • Anonymous says:

      Still shocked there is a 15% service charge at the place inside the departure lounge. That is outrageous based on the service provided and should be looked into.

      Who is getting that money? The staff? I doubt it.

    • Anonymous says:


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