The town is one of the Medway in North Kent, once famous for its dockyard. The dockyard closed and is now being developed into an exciting new business and residential community. The town has important road links and the railway and bus stations are the main ones for the Medway area. It also has good links to London. It is the administrative headquarters of Medway unitary authority, as well as the main shopping centre.
The University of Kent has a campus in the town. The University of Greenwich also has a campus based in Chatham Maritime, near the historic dockyard. Close by is the Dockside Outlet Centre, which has plenty of good-value shops and even an Australian-themed café. A multi-screen cinema opened in 2006 and Dickens World, an attraction based around the life and works of the author Charles Dickens, opened in 2007. Major employment sectors for the area include public administration, education and health; distribution, hotels and restaurants, finance, IT and the dockyard.
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The Historic Dockyard is an important part of the town, supporting more than 500 jobs. The dockyard is now contributing in excess of £16m to the local economy each year, with growth still to come. Many students are educated on the site is itself, setting it apart from other heritage sites and demonstrating an impressive regeneration impact. This amount the dockyard contributes to the local economy will grow to over £20m when the student numbers rise to 650 in 2014.
Other major employers in the area include advanced manufacturing and engineering. There are around 900 manufacturing and engineering companies in the Medway region including BAE Systems, Delphi Diesel Systems, and the new Medway Innovation Centre. These companies require a wide variety of skills, from unskilled to senior management level, providing residents with many employment opportunities. The regeneration in the town means that the economy is set to grow and it is certainly a place with improving job opportunities.