A PROJECT which has helped launch more than 150 businesses will pump about £60m back into the North-East economy, it has been claimed.

The Redcar and Cleveland Enterprise Team was set up in 2010 to support people setting up their own companies and has helped people start businesses from celebration cake making to woodcutting.

The scheme has created firms across a number of sectors including the leisure, education, health and digital industries.

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Councillor Mark Hannon, Redcar and Cleveland Council's cabinet member for economic development, revealed the programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, had helped more than 150 companies since the end of 2011.

He said they were now putting £5.8m a year back into the North-East economy, which could hit £60m in 10 years.

The success stories include Zoee Smith, from Brotton, east Cleveland, who set up Saltburn Surf School with business-partner Nick Noble.

Ms Smith, who previously worked as a waitress and care assistant, received funding and guidance from the Enterprise Team and now teaches others how to master the waves.

She said: “The team were really helpful and the funding helped with the cost of equipment for our weekly junior surf club.

“I can't believe how lucky I am, it is hard work but I love to surf so being able to combine my job with what I love to do is a real bonus.”

Coun Hannon said the scheme allowed people to shape their own futures, and would create vital jobs across the North-East.

He said: “The Enterprise Team is there to nurture and bring along new businesses and encourage an enterprise culture.

“A number of years ago a Government report showed the area had one of the lowest rates of start-up businesses.

“The team is a fundamental part of our plan to try and change the philosophy and encourage people to try and work for themselves.

“The resulting cash injection into the North-East's economy is quite significant, which is why it is important this work continues.”