MORE than 100 people attended a Meet the Finalists event as the countdown continued to the Dorset Business Awards.

A drinks reception, sponsored by PKF Francis Clark, took place at the Italian Villa in Poole’s Compton Acres.

Representatives of the 36 businesses selected as finalists joined sponsors of the 12 award categories.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which organises the awards, said the gala awards dinner on November 23 would be a “fantastic night”.

“As far we’re concerned, everyone who’s here, everyone who’s a finalist, is a winner but for those winners that get picked on the night it’s a really special night,” he said.

He said the 164 entries represented a record year for the awards, and a new online entry platform had proved very popular.

There were new award categories celebrating exports, apprenticeships and young people, he added.

The awards night will begin with a drinks reception sponsored buy Seventa Events, followed by a three-course dinner and awards presentation. Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital is the entertainment sponsor and Brighter Productions is production sponsor for the third year running.

Pothecary Gin will sponsor a gift bottle for finalists, while ID card printing card specialist Magicard has joined the list of sponsors.

Companies interested in purchasing a ticket, table or finding out about any sponsorship opportunities for 2017, can contact the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 01202 714800.