A massive surge in new businesses has been reported in Tees Valley areas including Hartlepool.
Growing numbers of people are fighting back against job losses by taking the plunge into self-employment.
They are coming forward with business ideas that make use of the skills they have built up in their working lives, or from a hobby, and are investing in their futureSarah Thorpe, regional executive
It is already paying off by helping to create dozens of new jobs.
The Regeneration Fund was set up by UK Steel Enterprise to support start-up and small businesses.
So far, it has seen nearly five times the number of loans approved in 2016 than the equivalent first five months of last year.
UK Steel Enterprise, which also runs innovation centres including one at Queens Meadow Business Park in Hartlepool, has so far backed firms including a print and design agency and recruitment consultancy.
It has also backed companies selling power motors, creating illuminated artworks, hand-made collectable bears and training HGV drivers.
The support will help to create more than 30 new jobs.
The Regeneration Fund was set up to provide the relatively small amounts of funding that can be vital to a new or small business with loans of up to £3,500 that can be doubled in exceptional circumstances.
A major aim is to make the process as easy and speedy as possible to help reduce the demands on new businesses.
Regional executive Sarah Thorpe said: “It certainly looks as though Teessiders are showing their usual entrepreneurial spirit in the wake of recent events.
“They are coming forward with business ideas that make use of the skills they have built up in their working lives, or from a hobby, and are investing in their future.
“We have been making more effort to get the word out to start-ups and small businesses that our Regeneration Fund is here to help and we are very pleased with the increase in interest.
“These may be small amounts of money compared to the investments of up to £1m we can make in larger companies but we know that they can often make a real difference at this early stage.”
Details of The Regeneration Fund are available by emailing email@example.com