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Florida Companies to Watch "Shining the Spotlight"
on 50 Florida Companies

Posted on August 15, 2012


Introducing the Class of 2012.

The Florida Economic Gardening Institute (GrowFL) at the University of Central Florida is pleased to announce the winners of the 2012 class of Florida Companies to Watch. In its 2nd year of existence, Florida Companies to Watch is presented by SunTrust Banks and the University of Central Florida in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation and with special support from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Created by the Edward Lowe Foundation, Companies to Watch is an exclusive program that honors second-stage growth companies. Fifty second-stage companies from across the state of Florida were selected as "Companies to Watch" for their impressive employment rates and revenue growth. Award winners were also selected for their entrepreneurial leadership, product innovation, social/community responsibility and competitive business practices.

Florida Companies to Watch is also a testament to the commitment of community partners across the state. These groups work with second-stage companies every day and serve as their champions. More than 25 organizations pledged their support to nominate companies based in their communities, resulting in a record 425 nominations submitted. Nearly 140 companies were considered before 50 companies emerged as winners.

"We built Companies to Watch on the belief that an energized entrepreneurial culture must exist for second-stage companies to thrive," says Penny Lewandowski, Director of Entrepreneurship at the Edward Lowe Foundation. "Now in its second year, Florida Companies to Watch enables a wide variety of organizations to champion second-stage companies to participate, most notably by nominating them for the award. These organizations, from chambers and industry associations, to local, county and state government agencies and commercial service providers also create services to meet their unique needs and look for ways to collaborate. Bottom line, as partners, they strengthen overall community support for second-stagers. Celebrating the achievements of second-stage companies throughout the Sunshine State is at the heart of Florida Companies to Watch, and it begins with a night of good news on October 19th. But the program lives on beyond the awards gala with organizations committed to creating a rich entrepreneurial environment for these companies."

"Florida Companies to Watch takes a holistic approach, identifying companies across the state that represent Florida's future," says Tom O'Neal, Executive Director of GrowFL and Associate Vice President at the University of Central Florida. "It illustrates the economic potential across the entire state, not just in major metropolitan areas, that the state realizes with the successes of second-stage companies. Being selected for Florida Companies to Watch awards program provides growing businesses the credibility and recognition that distinguish them among their peers. This statewide even lauds the success of business leaders who have taken their operations to the 'second-stage' of growth and that hold the potential to continue to create jobs in their communities and industries, thereby making a difference in our local and statewide community."

The combined impact of the 50 companies selected to this year's Florida Companies to Watch is immense. In 2011 alone, the companies generated $355 million in total annual revenue, and held 1,576 full-time equivalent employees. The companies collectively created 350 net new jobs compared to the previous year. Between 2008 and the end of this year, these companies will generate $1.4 billion in revenue and add 1,297 employees (both in Florida and out of state), reflecting a 204 percent increase in revenue and 151 percent increase in jobs for the five-year period. In 2012 alone, that translates to a 35 percent annual revenue growth and 37 percent annual growth in employees. *Data compiled in August 2012.

The companies selected for the Florida Companies to Watch award will be recognized at a special ceremony on Friday, October 19 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. To register to attend, visit or contact

About the Florida Economic Gardening Institute (GrowFL):

Economic Gardening is a philosophy that embraces strategies to grow existing businesses in a community, region or state and is the basis for the entrepreneurship programs at the Florida Economic Gardening Institute (GrowFL). Initially created in 2009 as a pilot program, GrowFL, at the University of Central Florida, is now a critical component to Florida's entrepreneurial ecosystem and the state's overall economic development strategy. GrowFL focuses its efforts on initiatives that strengthen the service offerings of entrepreneurial support organizations throughout Florida and by delivering critical research and strategy support to help second-stage growth entrepreneurs prosper. GrowFL has helped more than 400 companies create more than 1,400 new jobs statewide since 2009. Additional information is available at 

Courtesy of PR Newswire

and Courtesy of Florida Companies to Watch