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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber Member Profiled by National Newspaper

Aaron DicksLast week, Aaron Dicks of Chamber member Impression Digital, told the Guardian newspaper why he chose Nottingham as the base for his business. Here, he tells his story to the Chamber...

Why we chose to launch a digital business in Nottingham

I launched Impression, a digital marketing agency, in November 2012 with my business partner Tom Craig. Ever since moving to the city a few years ago, what we’ve been most impressed by is the appetite for business growth within the city. This is spurred on in part by the city council, but the feet-on-the-ground driving force behind the momentum is definitely from the local business organisations.

We’d both been in Leeds during what felt like their ‘digital boom’, and from what we were seeing happening in Nottingham, we knew it was about to experience something similar - and we wanted to be a part of it.

Our business started in a shared space on Woolpack Lane in the Lace Market, but more recently we have been based in our new HQ on Stoney Street in the heart of the Creative Quarter. Since our incorporation just over two years ago, we’ve grown from a team of two to 15 digital marketing, design and development professionals serving clients across the region and beyond.

Support in Nottingham

In the past year alone, 2,138 businesses launched in Nottingham, so it is clearly a popular choice amongst new business start-ups.

For us, growth has been consistent - we’re a high-growth business from a headcount and a financial perspective. We’ve been very grateful to receive financial support from local initiatives such as that provided by the University of Nottingham, and also from grants facilitated by the council.

There are so many people willing to help new businesses here too. From the Chamber to the universities, to other local businesses and press. We’ve seen an abundance of people willing to provide support in various ways, be it helping us to find graduates, promoting us to their contacts, or helping us to feel part of the local business community. I don’t see us getting that anywhere else and have no intention of moving from Nottingham.

Nottingham's Got Talent

The team at Impression DigitalNottingham has quite a good instance of graduates staying in the area, which is another huge benefit of being based here. We’ve recently taken on two graduates from The University of Nottingham who are doing a fantastic job already. I think as new business growth continues, there will be even more exciting companies to attract local graduates to stay.

In our industry, it’s not uncommon for specialists to head to London or other regional powerhouses for their jobs - or at least that’s the perception. In our experience, there are some incredibly talented individuals in Nottingham in the digital field (15 of them work for Impression). There are so many networking events and programmes throughout the region that make finding new talent slightly more simple.

What we Contribute

Of course, we’re not passive bystanders in the growth of Nottingham and actively seek to support local growth in any way we can. We partnered with another local agency to build the Nottingham Means Business website. We also support the Creative Quarter in various ways and also work closely with the universities through their initiatives and graduate recruitment.

For us, working with local clients too is really rewarding and due to the economies of working with local people, we’re always keen to explore what we can do for local businesses looking to grow online.

We also employ local people and all but three of our team live within walking distance of the office. I believe strongly in keeping money here in Nottingham, so we partner with local businesses and use local suppliers.

What’s Next for Nottingham?

I always compare things to Leeds because that’s where I spent my early career years. Today, there are so many digital agencies there which have 150-200 people and everyone seems to be moving around a lot, with agencies being bought out by larger companies and so on.

In Nottingham, there’s a real focus on independent business. I hope this independent approach continues so we can differentiate Nottingham from other regional cities.

I think there’s still a few years to go before we can look back and really review how much the city has changed. But I do believe we’re experienced a growth period and the support of local authorities such as the Chamber are integral to that continuing.