I’ve got a reputation in the office for being an 'old man' despite only being a little under 30! This came about when I started declining invitations to go to late night cinema showings and the pub because I needed to be in bed for 21:30 ready for an early morning start. I don’t mind my OAP reputation (even if it is very clearly false), but what I do mind is Stoke’s ‘Has-been’ reputation (which is also very clearly false)!
For those didn’t know: Once upon a time Stoke was a very creative capital of the UK, shipping hundreds of thousands of highly artistic ceramic products across the world and thus we were known as ‘The Potters’. Then our pottery industry bubble burst and the factories relocated abroad, leaving Stoke’s economy, culture and spirit to slowly decay and fall into ruin.
Well I have been delighted to find that as a region we are starting to write one of Stokes next chapters; as a part of Staffordshire's overall digital presence. Staffordshire already has a great number of ‘Digital Businesses’ who are healthy and actively operating across the west midlands. We’re building websites, making videos, programing apps, selling computers and of course creating animation, but we are doing so, very separately.
An idea I found interesting from a meeting had last week, was one of uniting the whole area under a single umbrella brand: Staffordshire Digital. Of course the idyllic picture would be that people across the UK will think of Staffordshire as being on the forefront of digital services and innovations and although I like the idea, I don’t think it is something we as a town or region can just choose to label ourselves with. It is, however, something that we will become known for, something we’ll earn in time. To become known for something, we must first be noticed, we must stick some seriously noteworthy flags into the ground and sing from the rooftops about them. Flags like the feature films and television work Carse and Waterman are doing right now in federation house. Flags like the scientific innovations Keele university are achieving and flags like the ambitious City of Culture title which Stoke city council are boldly marching for. If we keep doing these things, keep bringing new exciting projects to the area it won't be long before the rest of the UK start to notice us again.
We’ll never get to choose what we’re known for, that's up to the rest of the country, but we can work hard in getting noticed as a town and as a region. This OAP is working on some noteworthy flags of his own, here at C&W and hopefully in time (and with effort), the rest of the UK will actually brand us as 'Staffordshire Digital'.