COMPANIES in the Tees Valley must make their presence across the UK felt to remain competitive.

That was a key message from The Great Economic Debate event, hosted by North-East Finance and Tees Valley Business Club.

The event, which took place at the Wilton Centre, near Redcar, included a number of issues, such as bridging the skills gap and the need for affordable finance.

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However, business leaders said that although the Tees Valley was beginning to harbour increased economic confidence, companies must help themselves by highlighting their successes outside the North-East.

Jason Hobbs, finance director at North East Finance, which manages the £125m Finance for Business North-East programme, said: “In this region, we’re a little bit shy about promoting ourselves.

“Good engineers and inventors don’t necessarily make good salespeople.

“We’ve seen an increase in activity in the last 12 months and more funding applications from Tees Valley companies.

“To keep that momentum going, businesses have to shout louder about their successes and encourage their peers to seek investment.”

Stephen Catchpole, managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited local enterprise, said the area was held back by an innate modesty.

He added: “We don’t publicise our successes enough, and need to do more to show people our achievements.”