Economic development organisation Business Durham has appointed a new managing director to succeed Simon Goon.
Brian Archer is the former business development director of a FTSE 250 company and was recently commercial director of Leeds City College Group.
He has also run his own business, meaning he has the insight of the needs of start-ups and SMEs.
Goon left the organisation earlier this year to take up a job as chief operating officer at Synoptica.
Archer said: "I believe there's a wider role for businesses to not only generate prosperity but to change lives by creating new opportunities and raising aspirations. Business Durham is already making that happen and I look forward to supporting and leading the team as they continue to find innovative ways to help businesses in County Durham thrive and grow.
"I see this role as an exciting opportunity to make a difference."
Councillor Carl Marshall, Durham County Council's cabinet member for economic regeneration, added: "Brian is an outstanding candidate with a wealth of experience in different roles across the country, spanning various sectors at director level.
"His experience of running his own business will also be particularly beneficial when working to promote the interests of SMEs in the county."
Business Durham works with more than 1,000 businesses across the county every year including the likes of Hitachi Rail and ResQ.