The message is clear: the North East can build on its strengths to create jobs and growth.
That is the confident prediction from the former Labour cabinet minister, Lord Adonis, who is leading a review of the region's economy.
Lord Adonis has been commissioned by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership - the body charged with kick-starting the economy across Tyneside, Wearside, Northumberland and County Durham.
He is joined by figures as varied as the Bishop of Durham and the Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water, Heidi Mottram.
Lord Adonis took on the role in September. This week he is on a whistle-stop tour of the North East, speaking to representatives from the worlds of business, industry, education and culture.
His mission: to learn what is helping and hindering the North East economy.
Lord Adonis says he wants to identify key priorities to help the region grow.
– Lord Adonis
"The North East needs better communications. The issue of airports and getting more and better flights out of (Newcastle) airport is one that's been raised with me as a very big issue. It would be great if Newcastle had a trans-Atlantic connection."
In tough economic times, Lord Adonis says it is important to make the best use of investment opportunities. Ultimately, he says his six month review boils down to one key factor:
– Lord Adonis
"The critical issue for the North East is where are the jobs of the future going to come from? _How do we get more and better companies established here in the North East? _
_"We have got Nissan, we have got Hitachi, we have got a string of really world class companies, which have chosen the North East as a base to export to the rest of the world. We need lots more companies like that."
The commission will look ahead to the next two decades. It is expected to report back with its findings in the spring.