Digital companies and festivals are boosting the town’s economy, says a government-backed report.
According to Tech City UK, the Dorset seaside resort is the fastest growing UK location for digital jobs, at more than double the rate of London. Toby Pestridge, the founder of the digital company Createful, recognises that the town’s creative atmosphere is shifting the classic perception of Bournemouth as a sleepy seaside resort.
“It’s great to have the university around, and also obviously a lot of companies working in the same space. It fosters a collaborative environment for creativity.”
A further spurt in investment has come from the Bournemouth’s Business Improvement District. Shops and restaurants from Lansdown to the Triangle have pooled together their resources to the tune of £550k, says Lisa Tucker, Chair of the Town Centre BID. “We’re trying to increase footfall and improve the atmosphere; our town has to stand out from other cities as an up-and-coming place.” Tucker also compares Bournemouth with the so-called ‘Capital of the North’: “To insure that we can compete with places like Manchester, we are organising events like the Gardens of Light Festival”.
Lightning designer Michael Grubb, the hand behind the innovative Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, was brought on to provide the interactive illuminated light pods that punctuated the Lower Gardens over Christmas. The town has also benefited from a number of other well established festivals, such as the Wheels Festival in May and the Air Festival in August.
The influx of students is another important aspect of growth: “We’ve got a lot of international students here, and the colleges and universities are getting bigger and bigger,” says Tucker. In turn, this has stimulated the development of large-scale accommodations. As a shop manager, Tucker used to see her customers turn to Reading or Southampton in search of a wider brand variety. “Now they can stay here, and the shops and retail chains are helping the city grow” she says.