Glass, steel, concrete. These are the materials we associate with the digital age, the high tech and the online.
When we think of dot com companies our minds conjure up images of sleek, spacious buildings filled with vibrant colours and slides from the office into the canteen.
Either we have forgotten, or simply not fully realised, that the dream of digital is the empowerment to take what we’re doing and do it anywhere. Even a medieval city such as Canterbury. Especially a medieval city such as Canterbury!
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You see, people like quirky, interesting places. The sorts of places that inspire, and ignite the imagination. Creative types, especially, gravitate towards centres of culture, art and science.
As much as Google HQ or the new Apple Park were cool concepts 20, even 10 years ago, and as much as they’re necessary for some companies who need to lock down all of their employees into one space as far as possible, times have moved on.
Creative people don’t need lofty cold warehouses in the middle of nowhere. They need theatre, atmosphere and intrigue.
The true digital age is crying out to transform places with character into digital powerhouses, and Canterbury has all the ingredients to be the most powerful of them all.
Packed to the hilt with young adults studying a broad spectrum of disciplines and home to the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge and the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury has made great strides getting connected in the last few years.
There’s Internet access worthy of the name ‘super fast,’ and there’s a rail service to the capital worthy of the same.
My firm Dodgems and Floss, nestled between a pub and a vape shop in St Peter’s Street, beams its team into offices around the country and around the world, most recently to a new client in Los Angeles.
It collaborates on the global stage using the best of everything that Canterbury has to offer, including a growing number of other creative companies boasting complimentary services.
Best of all, it works not in spite of being in Canterbury, but because of it, and is one of many new businesses taking the Canterbury brand beyond the quaint cobbled streets of history and into a bold new digital future.
Canterbury isn’t a place lost to some old world order, a frieze of time gone by. Its creative and cultural heartbeat give it a foundation to be at the very centre of what’s coming next, and if this trend continues we all stand to benefit from the growth and prosperity that will result.
Ben Fitter-Harding has been a Conservative councillor for Blean Forest since 2012 and chairs Canterbury City Council’s property and regeneration committee. A former student of the University of Kent, he is studio director at digital marketing firm Dodgems and Floss.