Behind the Scenes at the Cayman Islands

Lucky assignment, right? My senior producer, Kim Godwin, called me to ask if I "might be free to go to the Cayman Islands" to follow the "Financial Family Tree" as it wound its way through the Caribbean. My response, clearly, did not require much thought; "yes".

I was picking up the baton (or the branch, really) from Dean Reynolds. Dean's piece left us at the Tortuga Rum Company in Grand Cayman. I looked into a number of different possibilities to show the ripple effects of the tough economy which extend outward from the bakery. It wasn't difficult to find several possible "branches" on our tree.

My first thought was to follow the cakes to a local restaurant (Casanova) which wasn't ordering as many of the cakes because they had fewer patrons. That branch led on to a produce distributor (Cayman Imports) which wasn't getting as many orders for produce from the restaurant, and that meant they weren't ordering as much fruit from farmers back in the US. I also looked into potential branches through a rum company Seven Fathoms and a local hotel. The point is--there are so many "ripples" that extend out from each economic "wave" (forgive me) that the options are endless.

In tonight's piece, we take a quick detour to go home with the Hamaty-Simmonds family because they were lovely and we thought it was important to glimpse the impact on home life because most of these pieces have just looked effects on the business. As you'll see on the "CBS Evening News" piece we follow the rum cakes to Dolphin Discovery (in part because there were great pictures) and on to a dive operator Deep Blue Divers and his clothing supplier, Island Company in West Palm Beach.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story was what each business owner was doing to stay afloat.

While the overarching point of this series is to look at the interconnectedness of the world economy (through small businesses) each business is finding ways to stay as competitive as possible despite the tough economy. With the cake business down at Tortuga Rum Company they worked to boost sales on the liquor side of their business. At "Dolphin Discovery" they were more flexible with guests and the staff multi-tasked to keep costs down. At "Deep Blue Divers" owner Nick Buckley thinks that more personalized service will bring customers back and at "Island Company" Spencer Antle opened his own retail stores to help move inventory that was piling up.

While we look at how each business is squeezed, it's important to note that each of these businesses are finding ways to work smarter to weather this economic storm.