Cheltenham prepares to aim for the stars - and take the county with it

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 14 September 2020 6:09

Cheltenham prepares to aim for the stars - and take the county with it

“We are not building from a standing start here. We are propelling something that is already growing. It is hugely exciting for Cheltenham,” said David Jackson.  

That is a direct quote from the man charged with orchestrating all of the message about Cheltenham - the Gloucestershire town famous for its regency buildings, horse racing, festivals, nightlife and shopping - into one powerful narrative.  

You only have to see the stereo-type-smashing campaign launch video (by Squashed Robot Films), to realise the strapline 'We’re Moving to Cheltenham' has nothing to do with retiring to somewhere quiet where you can get a nice cup of tea and stoll on the Prom.

In the all-inclusive 2020s that is, of course, perfectly acceptable as well. But this is about resetting the lenses through which those in and outside the county view Cheltenham – so they see it first and foremost as somewhere that is making things happen.

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It is all about ensuring a clear message to attract inwards investment, tying together the town’s numerous positive efforts into united powerful story. If you are asked, and want to impress, tell people this is what is called placemaking. 

If you think is Cheltenham as a well-dressed man and woman about town who have been wearing the same well-tailoredsuit and frock for a little too long – this is their new wardrobe, andoh boy, are they are going dancing.  

I think Cheltenham has a huge opportunity to attract in investment. This is an inspirational place, there are surprising things happening here. It is a cultural gem. 

It is about getting that message out there to those who may see it differently, not as the same old same old,” said Mr Jackson, whose other day job is managing Marketing Cheltenham. 

Pictured: imperial Square and the Cheltenham skyline as you may never have seen the before

It is mostly about how best to market Cheltenham – how to turn people on to the opportunities around the likes of the £400 million Golden Valley Development and the now 'cleared for lift-off' Minster Innovation Exchange which will have close links to nearby cyber workspace Hub8.  

Thse are two of the book ends between these two lies the narrative of the town putting the county on the map as the cyber capital of the UK and the region as a powerhouse.  

It is not just about Cheltenham – although it is driven by Cheltenham Borough Council and Marketing Cheltenham, Cheltenham BID and local brand agency ASHA.

Pictured: Artwork by Andy 'Dice' Davies, organiser of Cheltenham Paint Festival

Its partner in arms is the just-launched Economic Recovery Task Force, headed up by Diane Savory of GFirst LEP (the county’s local enterprise partnership) with a board of ablebusinessmen and women to hand.

As well as acting as one of the key catalysts for all this joined-up thinking the local enterprise partnership has been pushing its own marketing message - partly through this website - to 'Think Gloucester', to support the businesses within the county.

It is proper joined-up thinking to tackle the impact of the pandemic head-on with people who care as well as whose job it is standing front and centre.  

“We are not going to pretend it is not a challenging environment, but with challenge comes opportunity for those who can and those who look for it.  

“The Golden Valley development is big, but I think people realise it is not the only game in town. It will help ignite the growth, but something worth noting is the density and depth of the digital economy already here in Gloucestershire,” said Mr Jackson.

The likes of Microsoft, IBM and Apple have already been attracted to the town, whilst some of the most exciting tech and cyber start-ups in the country are already said to be in Cheltenham.  

Last month, it was confirmed that six potential partners have been shortlisted for the £400 million, nationally-significant Golden Valley Development, home of Cyber Central - a new campus and cyber-tech community adjacent to GCHQ.  

“We are not building from a standing start here. We are propelling something that is already growing. It is hugely exciting for Cheltenham. A lot of places don’t have that real opportunity to build on.”  

Ms Savory OBE, chair of the new recovery task force, said: “This new We’re Moving to Cheltenham campaign is a great demonstration of the kind of bold and imaginative approach that’s needed to rebuild business confidence in the town.  

“I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues and partners in Cheltenham to support the county’s inward investment ambitions and to exploit the many opportunities that Cheltenham and Gloucestershire offer in driving innovation, talent retention and business growth.” 

 First published on September 11 2020.

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