TEES Valley is fast becoming the global capital for subsea innovation.

Darlington may be about 25 miles from the coast but it has a cluster of firms, such as Modus Seabed Intervention and DeepOcean Group, formerly known as CTC Marine, capable of digging trenches on the seabed, laying electricity cables and providing support for survey and inspection.

Reef Subsea Power and Umbilical in Stockton and JDR Cables in Hartlepool are among the firms helping the region to secure worldwide attention.

Industry leaders have likened the opportunity in renewables to the 1970s oil and gas bonanza.

North-East firms supplying offshore wind projects expect to create about 1,000 jobs this year alone with the likes of Billingham-based Tag Energy Solutions among those poised for major growth. It is something we should shout about.

Doom mongers suggest that Durham Tees Valley Airport should close to passengers but its rival in the north of the region goes from strength to strength.

Jet2holidays has launched three new destinations: Marrakech, Iceland and St Petersburg, departing next April and May from Newcastle Airport.

I asked Steve Heapy, the operator's chief commercial officer, if he had any plans to bring some much-needed new services to DTV.

"At the moment we are working Newcastle very hard and getting a very good response," he said. "Now is not the right time to be looking at other areas. In this financial climate you don't want to take too many risks.. We are always looking for new opportunities but it's got to right for us and in the North-East that means Newcastle."

In this week's OddJobs feature we talk to a woman who can earn thousands of pounds for an hour's work.

In-demand Teesdale voiceover artist Emma Hignett can be heard on everything from London buses to telephone helplines for global brands like Visa and Microsoft.

Emma also works in public relations so I get phone calls from her on a fairly regular basis. I can confirm that she does have a great voice, possessing the kind of classical English qualities that Americans in particular seem to love. Judge for yourself by visiting www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/business/oddjobs where there is an audio file of her speaking.

Darlington-based Northgate Vehicle Hire has introduced a free shares scheme for staff who have been with the company for more than a year. They each get a package of 250 shares worth about £500. It has proved very popular, with 90 per cent of workers signing up for the scheme in the two months since its launch. But that means 10 per cent of eligible staff haven't signed up. Which part of free shares worth £500 don't you understand?

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