Medway’s business communities have joined forces to promote the area and further boost the economy by launching a place story.
Over the past few months a major project has been taking place to identify what makes Medway distinctive. Medway residents, stakeholders and business owners were invited to have their say and help shape the Medway story. The bold transformation that has taken place across Medway in recent years, combined with the area’s ambitious regeneration vision, meant it made perfect sense in this 20th anniversary year to work with the community to launch a place story for Medway.
A large number of local people took part in this work, joining focus groups or taking part in a survey to identify what they value about Medway. There was overwhelming interest from local people keen to join the journey to put Medway on the map and help create a prosperous future for the place. This information has then been compiled to create a compelling story which can be used by everyone, such as those working and living in Medway, as ambassadors for the area. Thinkingplace, an award winning agency specialising in place branding, was commissioned to carry out the initiative, following a competitive procurement process.
Telling the Medway story
Medway is set to become a leading waterfront city over the coming years, an economic powerhouse for the region and a place destined for big things. It is already a popular tourist area in the south-east offering a rich cultural heritage, as well as a thriving economy.
Three key themes stood out from the feedback which now form the backbone of the Medway story:
- Making maritime history, celebrating our stories – recognising that in Medway you are walking in the footsteps of history, from the rich military and maritime heritage of Chatham and its historic dockyard to the stunning cathedral, castles and museums.
- Cultivating innovation and creativity – celebrating 14,000 businesses across Medway, especially the growing reputation of Medway for high value technology and knowledge intensive businesses making it a leading centre for innovation in the south-east, as well as a strong cultural hub. And Medway’s four university campuses are offering 12,000 students a range of excellent academic and vocational learning opportunities, providing the perfect formula for a skilled workforce and employment opportunities.
- Valuing our waterside – the river is the beating heart of Medway and today is the focus point for the visionary regeneration bringing stunning residential, leisure and business developments, as well as being important for Medway’s cultural and tourism offering.
Medway’s economy is now worth £4.8bn, with a growth rate ahead of the rest of the UK. The area’s five towns have become a magnet for a diverse range of businesses, property hunters and investors - attracted by its growing reputation as a diverse regeneration zone and its award winning rural areas and river scene. Over the next 20 years Medway’s ambitions are to provide growth for all by continuing to strengthen the economy and offer more jobs, increasing investment, improving local skills and attracting more visitors.
Launching the new Medway story to an audience of more than 130 business and community leaders at The Historic Dockyard Chatham on Thursday, 7 June, Cllr Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council, said: “Medway has a strong story to tell, from its rich cultural history to its innovative business scene. The place branding initiative is hugely important. Together we can help shape Medway’s future and put Medway on the map. We are all on an exciting journey and everyone has a role to play to tell Medway’s story and prove that we are here to compete with some of the most renowned areas in the world.”
Promoting Medway through partnership
The initiative has already secured strong support from a wide range of Medway businesses and organisations keen to stand up for the area and play a part in raising its profile.
A Place Board has been created, bringing together key organisations and individuals across Medway and is chaired by Simon Cook, Principal and Chief Executive of Mid Kent College. The Board has overseen the development of the story and will provide a continuing senior and strong presence, standing up for the area and playing an active role in taking Medway forward.
A new Champions programme will get underway this autumn. The programme is effectively a place network that will give businesses and organisations the chance to come together to learn about the development of Medway and see how they can support and promote Medway the place, as well as creating relationships that benefit themselves and the area.
Taking on his new role as chair of the Medway Place Board, Simon Cook, Principal and Chief Executive of MidKent College, said: “The importance of Medway as a place to our students, employers and our college is essential. We all want our students to flourish and thrive and by raising our own ambitions and aspirations of Medway as a place we will help create a place where future generations are transformed.
“I am absolutely delighted with the strength of response and participation from local people in this initiative so far. It is so important for Medway’s future for us all to get behind this and work to put Medway on the map. We will all benefit from a stronger economy, thriving business, tourism and cultural sectors and an excellent range of education providers giving greater opportunities to future generations.
“A visual identity for Medway has been created alongside the Medway story, as well as a new photo library of images of Medway which can be used by the Medway Champions in all their promotional activity. I am delighted that MidKent College will be one of the first organisations to showcase the new Medway visuals on our buildings and look forward to it appearing across Medway in months to come.“
Bill Ferris OBE, DL – Chief Executive of The Historic Dockyard Chatham, said: “I was delighted to welcome this important launch at The Historic Dockyard which has been involved in the process throughout and the aim and objectives of which are shared and endorsed. Medway is a place with a fantastic future, firmly grounded in the identity of its internationally important past. Working to an agreed identity that goes so much further than a logo but is about the very essence of the place will be fundamental to the way the place goes on to develop and maintain its proud identity in the shadow of London.”