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