Businesses based in South Tyneside are confident they can achieve their ambitions in the Borough, according to the findings of a survey.
Four hundred local firms across all sectors responded to the survey, which was carried out in November last year.
South Tyneside Council was keen to understand more about the impact of Covid and Brexit on local firms and identify any barriers to growth.
More than two thirds of businesses said they were confident they could achieve their ambitions within the borough and half said they expected to recruit new employees over the next 12 months.
However, businesses highlighted obstacles to growth including finance, staff recruitment and skills shortages - predominantly technical skills - and over half said they needed support in training and skills.
The Council will now use the feedback to plan how it can better support the business community and lobby government for aid needed locally. It will also use the findings to shape any future funding allocations the borough receives from Government.
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "We know that the last couple of years have been really tough with the huge challenges that the pandemic and Brexit have thrown at businesses.
"So it's really encouraging that the majority of firms which responded are optimistic about the future and feel that they can thrive here in the Borough.
"But we've listened to businesses and we know there are obstacles to growth. We're working hard to support them in areas like training and skills; for example, we're developing digital skills programmes; we recently held a virtual STEM careers fair and we're about to host a green jobs event with the College.
"Firms have told us finance is another big barrier and at South Tyneside Business Week in June, we'll be exploring access to finance, and we'll continue to lobby government around business rates and other support needed locally."
Unsurprisingly, all industries reported a drop in turnover over the previous year, with retail, hospitality and public services worst affected.
Cllr Dixon added: "The hospitality sector was hit disproportionately hard by lengthy lockdowns and restrictions.
"In response, we are launching a pre-employment academy to get residents recruitment-ready ahead of the summer season, through South Tyneside Works.
"One of the council's key priorities is to create the conditions for recovery and investment and the feedback from this survey will enable us to tailor our support to what our business community tells us they want and need.
"We'd also encourage local businesses to join the 100-plus organisations which have signed the South Tyneside Pledge, which aims to boost spending, recruitment and procurement within the borough."
The survey will now be carried out on an annual basis, to canvas views, build an up-to-date business database and gather valuable information to feed into future funding bids.