ONE of the best parts of being mayor is that you’re the area’s number one ambassador on the national stage. This month the Tees Valley has been thrust into the national spotlight, with barely a day going by where I haven’t been contacted for radio, television or press interviews.

It is a busy but rewarding schedule, giving me a fantastic opportunity in front of millions of viewers to talk up Teesside and dispel the negative perceptions some people have. From ITV’s Robert Peston to BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, it has been a pleasure to talk about some of the fantastic work we’re doing up here.

Our positivity is infectious too, attracting a whole host of ministers to the region, such as Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, Energy Minister Claire Perry, Business Minister Richard Harrington, and Education Secretary Damian Hinds, who all want to see what we’re up to. It was also a pleasure to host former Chancellor George Osborne at Hurworth School in Darlington.

As well as the huge longer-term plans that have been snatching news headlines, more than £44m has been ploughed into tangible projects that will be immediately transformative for our communities. These are schemes which will create hundreds of jobs, support many more, and help deliver real change.

This month we launched the new National Horizons Centre for Teesside University. The facility will be a world-class institution for biologics research, education and training. Biomedical sciences, industrial biotechnology and digital are key sectors in my Plan for Growth and their importance nationally cannot be understated.

We have invested £17.5m in this facility which will sit at Darlington’s Central Park. That is just metres from the East Coast Main Line which serves millions of rail passengers. What better advert that Tees Valley is open for business than new, world-class, forward-looking research institutions?

Further investment has also helped deliver top-quality office accommodation. Working with Darlington Council, we’ve signed off £3.23m funding for Grade A office space at Feethams in the town centre.

And, thanks to £12.8m in Government funding, we’re working with Stockton and Darlington councils to provide necessary infrastructure to unlock development on two sites, which will lead to 3,350 new homes.

As well as championing the new, we need to protect the old. That is why we have invested more than £6m in Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council’s ambitious development of the Kirkleatham Estate. Rejuvenating the Grade-II listed Walled Garden isn’t simply a beautification project, although the potential to attract an additional 50,000-plus visitors to Tees Valley each year is nothing to be sniffed at. Vitally, the creation of a catering academy on the grounds will provide training in horticulture and hospitality, as well as creating more jobs.

As ever, there are many other exciting schemes in the pipeline, including our ambitious Darlington 2025 plans to revamp the town’s station and improve transport links. Over the coming weeks, we’ll also see the announcement of a multi-billion pound energy project on the former SSI steelworks site in Redcar. These projects may not happen overnight and will take time, but Tees Valley is in the limelight and we’re on the up. We’re showing the rest of the country that up here, we’re all about deeds, not words.