A VIBRANT network of support services is essential to the growth and development of our region.
And a wide range of elements is required to keep the wheels of industry turning.
From the skills and training required to create a strong workforce to professional services such as finance and law - all are essential ingredients to ensure Tees Valley's continued development.
Education and training
A solid foundation in education and training is essential to help business thrive and prosper.
This ranges from nurturing talent of tomorrow to up-skilling a current workforce to maximise the opportunities available.
The Evening Gazette continues to champion skills and training with its ABC - A Brilliant Career in the Tees Valley campaign.
The initiative aims to improve education, employment and enterprise across our region.
Millions of pounds have, and are, being ploughed into new educational facilities across the region.
In Middlesbrough a £68m class act is taking shape on the Middlehaven site.
And the dream of providing a new Middlesbrough College is fast becoming a reality.
The new college is due to open in September 2008 and will bring its current operations on four sites in the town together under one new roof.
The new facility will bring together all the existing facilities of the college, including a theatre, sports hall, a gymnastics centre, engineering and construction workshops, a centre of vocational excellence in hospitality and catering, hair and beauty salons, and state of the art learning technology.
It will cater for 20,000 full and part-time students and more than 600 staff when it is completed.
The region's universities - Teesside and Durham's Queen's campus at Thornaby's Teesdale site - also continue to grow.
Teesside University has invested more than £20m developing the Institute of Digital Innovation and the Centre for Creative Technologies.
Durham University has plans to expand its Tees Valley campus on to the North Shore regeneration site.
As well as providing first class facilities, it's important for our region's educational establishments to develop and serve the needs of the local economy.
Tees Valley is facing a major skills shortage in sectors such as process and engineering.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers says the North-east faces the very real prospect that by 2015, there will be a skills gap of about 13,000 engineers.
The North East Process Industry Cluster has also said almost double the number of workers are needed in the industry by 2014.
The sector could fail to capitalise on £5bn of potential investment by 2012 unless it increases the skills of the workforce.
Redcar and Cleveland College is developing a portfolio of foundation degrees aimed at developing highlyskilled professionals for careers within the chemical and process industry.
Training organisations are also powering workforces of the future.
The TTE Technical Training Group is a leading technical training provider of technical training to the oil and gas, process, manufacturing and engineering sectors.
The Teesside-based company, which is the UK's largest employer-led technical training company, is introducing a new Chemical Technician Advanced Apprenticeship in February 2008 to help address the sector's skills shortage by developing the next generation of process operators.
Organisations such as the Learning and Skills Council are also working hard to ensure our region is better skilled and more competitive.
The LSC has a single goal - to improve the skills of England's young people and adults to ensure we have a workforce of world-class standard.
It's so important for the Tees Valley to grasp the opportunities available through training a bigger, more robust, skilled workforce.
Inspiring young people and encouraging them to consider careers in key sectors such as construction, science and engineering is also important for building long-term success.
The future for the Tees Valley is vibrant and it will be all the better, and stronger, if our own highly-skilled workforce can be its heartbeat.
Climate change has become a key issue for business with environmental sustainability having rocketed up the corporate agenda.
And it's an issue that effects us all.
After all research has found that if everyone in the world lived the lifestyle typical of that in the UK, we would need more than three planet Earths to provide us with enough food, energy and resources to survive.
The Evening Gazette has launched its own call to action with the Renew, Reuse, Recycle initiative.
We want people across Tees Valley to sign up to our Green Pledge and commit to do their bit to help.
We have also joined forces with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust to develop an environmental oasis alongside the River Tees at Stockton.
A £10 donation will buy you five trees which will be planted at the site and everyone has the chance to get involved.
Plus there's plenty all of us can be doing - no matter how small - to make a difference to the environment.
Organisations, such as the Billinghambased Energy Savings Trust Advice Centre for the North-east, are working hard in the Tees Valley to ensure each and every one of us plays a part.
And taking action can be good for your pocket as well as the world around you.
An Energy Saving Trust energy health check can help you shave up to £300 off your annual energy bill and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by two tonnes.
Regeneration, business development and job creation is a key issue for each of Tees Valley's five local authorities.
Teams in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland and Darlington are working hard to support new and growing local businesses and those relocating from elsewhere in the UK and abroad.
Helping local people meet the needs of local employers is also crucial - with training and education meeting changing business needs.
Plus they are creating a climate in which our economy can grow, with investment and revitalisation underway right across the Tees Valley.
A whole raft of services help support and strengthen our local business community.
From staffing to accommodation, all are important for new start-ups and growing businesses.
Specialist advice on finance, complex legal matters or business development - all can be found here in our region.
And what about location?
New developments are providing homes for new firms to find their feet as well as additional space for established companies to grow.
For example around 80 companies are currently flourishing at UK Steel Enterprise's two Innovation Centres in Tees Valley.
The team aims to create a supportive environment for the great entrepreneurial spirit that exists in our small business communities to thrive.
And it's centres at Kirkleatham and Hartlepool are doing just that.