Hartlepool has been declared a top UK town for promoting its companies online.
It has the second highest rate in the country for towns whose growth is down to its economic activity on the internet.
Only Scunthorpe had a better rate of growth, which won the Google eTown award after achieving a 47.2 per cent business growth in the last year.
Hartlepool was a close second with 42 per cent out of 700 towns surveyed.
Town MP Iain Wright said: “The internet will play an increasingly central role in commerce in the globalised economy, and to win a Google eTown means that Hartlepool is at the forefront of potential economic growth.”
One town businessman who knows the full benefits of the internet is Scott Phillips who started Premier Lake Balls in 2004.
The online business sells custom-made golf balls.
Scott said: “I would urge everyone to get a professional website and do proper internet marketing. The advantage of being online is that orders come in 24 hours a day, seven days a week so you get a continual income.
“Having lost my hearing. I can’t make phone calls so the internet offers me the chance to communicate without needing to speak to customers. We started using AdWords to attract new customers and its proved to be a worthwhile investment with sales up substantially in the last 12 months.”
Companies with an online presence grow from four to eight times faster than those companies without, according to the Boston Consulting Group which carried out the research.
Middlesbrough came fifth in the study with 34.6 per cent growth while Durham was 20th with 22.4 per cent.
To compile the list, Google shortlisted the 700 towns with the highest online economic activity, and then ranked them in terms of the percentage increase in local small and medium sized enterprises using AdWords over the last year.
Dan Cobley, managing director of Google UK, said: “Hartlepool has much to be proud of, with local business owners turning to online opportunities to drive growth and boost their bottom lines.”