DORSET’S chamber of commerce has been picked to provide a “one stop shop” for business support to non-members as well as members.

The chamber, which has more than 700 members, will provide the Dorset Gateway service after winning a competitive tender from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.

News of the contract was given to 120 guests at Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (DCCI) president’s lunch at Bournemouth’s Highcliff Marriott Hotel.

DCCI chief executive Ian Girling said: “The chamber is well placed to deliver vital business support to firms which would benefit from a range of services to help them expand and generate jobs and inward investment. This is very much a gateway to growth.”

Chamber president Paul Tansey, who leads Poole-based business-to-business marketing agency Intergage, told the event that the chamber had a tangible energy.

He said: “Almost every chamber event is sold out and members say they love being part of this community. The chamber is buzzing and it feels like it’s in a great place.”

He urged members to enter the Dorset Business Awards.

He said: “It’s amazing how just entering the team for an award spreads excitement and pride – it galvanises and motivates everybody.”

Entry for the awards, which are open to non-members, close on Friday, August 3.

DCCI is itself entering the British Chambers of Commerce Awards, which recognise excellence in member services, engagement and operations.

In his presidential address, Mr Tansey also warned that Dorset’s “young people are struggling to understand the employment opportunities open to them here”.

He urged educators, the young and local businesses to get together as stakeholders in the same economic future.

DCCI is working with the Careers & Enterprise company on the Careers and Apprenticeship Show, to be held at the BIC on September 26. It aims to be the biggest employment event of its kind in Dorset, with 100 employers and 2,000-3,000 young people attending.

The president’s lunch, sponsored by law firm Trethowans LLP, also heard Mr Tansey speak of the “fourth industrial revolution” – and the opportunities and challenges it poses.

“This is an era where sensory and aware objects and machines can listen and speak and connect to a super intelligence in the cloud – and automate away work we do,” he said.

Guest speakers Peter Truckel and Ian Jones from Bournemouth University picked up the technology theme, talking about machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Mr Tansey added: “Our chamber is a warm and supportive community for the business leaders of Dorset and we stand for business excellence, business growth and promoting business and its agenda to the wider community.

“For me our county is the ultimate place for hard-working people and their families to thrive. A place where business opportunity meets an exceptional quality of life. There is nowhere like it.”