Festival set to champion business as a force for good

The Dorset Business Festival is back for a second year with an extended programme of exciting events.

Dorset Chamber has launched this year’s celebration with the theme of ‘Business as a Force for Good’ from September 30 to October 10.

The festival fortnight will feature networking, thought leadership and celebrations during a packed itinerary based around an Expo, Conference and the prestigious Dorset Business Awards.

It follows the success of last year’s, inaugural three-day event when more than 1,000 businesses took part.

Dorset Chamber Chief Executive Ian Girling announced the 2024 extravaganza with Lester Aldridge, the Premier Festival Partner for the second year running.

Blue Financial Planning, Bournemouth and Poole College, Dorset Council and YMCA Bournemouth have returned as Festival Partners. EV specialists, ElectriX, has also come on board as a partner for this year’s festival.

Ian said: “I am thrilled to announce that the Dorset Business Festival is returning for a second year.

“Last year’s event was a tremendous success which we are building upon this year with an extended programme of exciting events and activities over two weeks.

“We have chosen ‘Business as a Force for Good’ as our theme to champion the local business community and gain greater recognition for the role it plays in job creation, funding for public services through taxation, driving economic growth and community cohesion.

“It also reflect the chamber’s mission statement to enable better lives through business.

“Many thanks to all of our festival partners for their support. We can’t wait for the festival to begin!”

The festival build-up gets underway with the launch of the Dorset Business Awards at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester on April 23 when categories will be announced. Awards open on 1 May and close on 13 June.

Other events include:

  • Meet the Dorset Business Awards Finalists on September 10 when the shortlists are announced
  • A networking breakfast with over 100 people and a speaker at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Poole on Monday 30 September.
  • Festival Expo at the Hilton Bournemouth with over 70 exhibitors on October 2.
  • Festival Conference on 9 October, hosted by presenter Declan Curry at the Hilton Bournemouth with a high-profile keynote speaker, four panel discussions and high-level networking.
  • Dorset Business Awards on 10 October celebrating the achievements of our 30 finalists and winners in ten categories.

Grant Esterhuizen, Partner at Lester Aldridge, explained why the leading law firm has renewed its support.

He said: “As Premier Partner of the Dorset Business Festival for a second year, Lester Aldridge remains committed to the fusion of business and social responsibility.

“We see commerce as a force for good, driving positive change within our communities.

“Supporting this festival aligns with Lester Aldridge’s commitment to shaping a better future through responsible business practices.”

Other partners are also fully committed to this year’s event.

Gary Neild, Chief Executive Officer, Blue Sky Financial Planning Ltd “Blue Sky are thrilled to be supporting the Business Festival again this year.

“Dorset has a thriving business community that we are very proud to be a part of.

“Together we can create significant momentum and change that helps all of our clients and the communities around us.”

Phil Sayles, Principal and Chief Executive of Bournemouth and Poole College, said: “We support the Dorset Business Festival because we believe in business as a force for good.

“It’s an opportunity to forge meaningful connections that benefit both our students and the local business community, fostering growth and innovation in Dorset.”

Tim Hulme, Corporate Director for Assets and Regeneration at Dorset Council, said: “We’re really proud to sponsor this event supporting Dorset businesses.

“Dorset Council has strong, productive partnerships with businesses across the county, helping to make Dorset economically prosperous.

“Dorset is not immune to the challenges of economic growth, and the festival offers an opportunity to collectively explore collaborative solutions which brings fresh investment and benefits to our businesses and the residents of Dorset.”

Guy Spence, Managing Director of ElectriX, said: “As a member of Dorset Chamber, we’ve attended a number of events recently and this was a great opportunity for ElectriX to support the festival, its members and local businesses. We very much look forward to getting involved and wish the Chamber every success.”

Martin Stockley, Senior Operations Officer, said: “YMCA Bournemouth & Poole recognises the need to ‘celebrate’ local businesses, organisations and charities and their relentless focus on improving people’s lives in the BCP area, and further afield.

“The Dorset Business Festival does exactly this, and YMCA are extremely proud to be a supporting partner in 2024.”

The Conference is set to launch with more details about speakers and its itinerary on 15 May. Bookings will open for the breakfast networking event on Monday 30 September, in June.

Please visit https://dorsetchamber.co.uk/festival/ for more details, to book places at events and to sign up to the chamber’s newsletter to be the first to hear more about the festival as it happens.


With over 100 members any business in Dorset can join Dorchester Chamber from business for £60p/a (no VAT).