What a simply awful day for so many people reading this, writes Business Editor MIKE HUGHES.

Stomach-turning uncertainty as careers suddenly become an asset that might be traded, and as young people who had set their sights on working for one of the region’s best-known companies may now have to halt their courses and look elsewhere.

So this soon becomes a ‘where were you?’ moment for the North East and for investors in the region and we have to make sure those people with the funds understand that we are the sort of region that looks after our companies in good times and bad. Businesses will stand together to help find buyers and to look after both future and current workers.

Because in boardrooms and government offices and on factory floors it is always about the people - whatever its future and whoever ends up owning it the people of Cleveland Bridge are always more important than the rivets and the cranes.

I was reporting in Teesside when the SSI steelworks collapsed. The sense of shock, hurt and undirectable anger are here again and I can almost taste the same atmosphere.

Support for Cleveland Bridge will be global as the shockwave of news travels to all the cities where the company’s products take pride of place. They will react with the same disbelief that ‘the company that made this’ might ever need to be sold. But that is exactly where a new buyer will come from - a global reputation among ‘interested parties’ that the company has built just as efficiently as it makes its bridges.

There is a future, of course. The skills are too rare and the facilities are too complete to not be of interest to someone. But we are the North East, so we dream of a new owner that has the same pride and loyalty that is seamlesssly built into this region.

That first speech when the new boss stands on a rail or a track and addresses their most important asset - that’s when we’ll know what the future of Cleveland Bridge is going to be.

As ever, The Northern Echo will stand with those listening workers - and their boss - and we will support them all and demand support from others.

We have just launched a Level Up campaign to shout about the region’s potential. The day we have just experienced is a true test of the unity and collaboration that campaign is all about.