By Ben Simmons

Preparations for this year’s Open 4 Business Dorset awards have begun.

This year Open 4 Business will focus on the ‘legacy’ created by the Olympic sailing in the summer, organisers say.

A single business conference will replace the usual events programme held in the run-up to the October awards.

The first meeting of the stakeholder group was held to guide Open 4 Business Dorset towards its annual awards programme. The stakeholder group is chaired by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and includes private sector businesses, local chambers of commerce, Lloyds TSB, Wey-mouth College, WSX enterprises and West Dorset District Council.

Barry White retired from his role of chairman and the Community Interest Company will now be managed by Popcorn Marketing’s managing director Julie Cleaver and finance director Stephanie Pettitt of Equation Accounting, assisted by Gareth Jones from the borough council.

Mr Jones chairs the stakeholder group supported by Matthew Butcher, of WSX enterprises, who sits on the project working group as an advisor.

The awards are open to any Dorset-based business and there are eight award categories to choose from, plus the individual Flame Award and the overall Business of the Year award. The Dorset Echo is media partner of the awards.

"We are delighted to be associated with Open 4 Business Dorset during the 10th anniversary year," said Toby Granville, editor of the Dorset Echo and the Bournemouth Echo.

"2012 will be a memorable year for everyone in Dorset and we are very pleased to support Open 4 Business which recognises and celebrates local business success.

The usual Open 4 Business events programme will be consolidated into one a conference to be held the week before the awards ceremony in October.

The conference will focus on the legacy created by hosting the sailing games during the 2012 Games.

Businesses will have the opportunity to share their success stories, discuss the legacy projects which have been delivered by the Olympic team and to build on business opportunities created during 2012. The conference will be delivered by Open 4 Business Dorset, councils and the Olympic Team plus businesses and chambers of commerce.