A South Shields businessman is putting out a rallying call to encourage companies to invest in the town centre.
Carl Buckley, managing director of Urban River set up business in the town 14 years ago and since then his marketing agency has gone from strength-to-strength.
Frustrated by the number of companies choosing to leave premises in King Street - he wants other potential businesses to see what a vibrant place the town really is - and give the local economy a boost.
He admits the rental rates charged by private landlords, which the Gazette revealed earlier this month were up to £50,000 per year for some sites, may put people off.
He said: “Fourteen years ago we launched in Shields and in December 2009 we moved into King Street.
“At that time the business had grown and we needed a bigger site to operate from but I was passionate about staying in South Shields.
We need to shout about our successes more.Carl Buckley
“The property we lease from is owned by a family and we were able to negotiate very reasonable rates.
This is different from many of the others which will just be pension funds for people living in London.
“These people probably don’t even know where South Shields is, and losing £50,000 a year by having a vacant building will mean nothing to them.
“But there’s a lot of properties on offer and I think people would be surprised.”
While Mr Buckley recognises that his company doesn’t rely on passing foot trade - it does still bring a number of other businesses at his door.
He said: “We do a lot of work for multi-national companies and we provide work for the largest nursery chain in the country.
“But we also do a lot of work for local organisations like the Customs House and Northumbira Police, plus we do enterprise work with local schools
“If people realised the level of services which were available to them here in South Tyneside then they wouldn’t have to go further afield, money could be spent and kept in the area.
“I do have clients who will come to our King Street office and it is sad that they have to see the town like this, especially at the top end where we are based.”
Mr Buckley is optimistic that the town will be able to build a brighter future.
He said: “South Shields is no different to any other town. It needs to stop kicking itself into the ground.
“There’s so many talented people who live and work here and there’s plenty of successful businesses.
“We need to stick a flag in the sand and say we are here and we do have a lot to offer and we need to shout about our successes more.”