GrowFL was created in 2009 by the Florida legislature as an economic development program focused on assisting second-stage growth companies prosper in the state of Florida. By providing strategies, resources and support to second-stage companies for next level growth through Strategic Research, Peer Learning and Leadership Development, GrowFL helps companies overcome obstacles to growth and leads them towards prosperity. Based on the philosophy of Economic Gardening®—to grow existing businesses in a community, region or state—GrowFL, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute, is a critical component to the state’s economic development strategy and Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. GrowFL is a statewide economic development organization certified by the National Center for Economic Gardening through the Edward Lowe Foundation.
2016 marks the sixth anniversary of Florida Companies to Watch! Join the movement… Nominate successful second-stage growth companies from your community… Support the winners… Attend the event…Florida Companies to Watch celebrates growing second-stage companies headquartered in Florida. Companies to Watch was developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation as a unique way to recognize and honor second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes, making them “worth watching”. Presented by GrowFL, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute, in association with Edward Lowe Foundation, Florida Companies to Watch is an awards program like no other. We all have a compelling story to tell. We encourage you to tell yours!
GrowFL invites you to join us for a celebration of Florida’s Rock Star Entrepreneurs on November 3, 2016 at Hard Rock Live, Universal CityWalk
Learn More About FLCTW
Since its inception in 2005, Companies to WatchSM (CTW) has evolved from an event in a single state to a recognition program with national scope. Created by the Edward Lowe Foundation, CTW celebrates high performing, second-stage companies (those beyond the startup phase with the intent and capacity for significant, sustainable growth). GrowFL now presents Florida Companies to Watch, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation to recognize the success of Florida’s second-stage companies. “We started Companies to Watch to put second-stage entrepreneurs on the front lines,” says Penny Lewandowski, the foundation’s vice president of entrepreneurship and strategic direction. “They are so busy working on their businesses that they often fly under the radar screen when it comes to recognition. Companies to Watch is a great opportunity to celebrate their successes and their contributions. It is, in every way, a program about good news!”
No Ordinary Award
Consider: Second-stage companies represent about 6 percent of the Florida headquartered companies, but generate 30 percent of the jobs, according to YourEconomy.org, a national online research tool. What’s more, second-stage companies are introducing new products, services and technologies that give Florida a competitive edge in the global arena. Because second-stage companies aren’t relegated to a single industry, CTW differs from other award programs and showcases a diverse group of businesses. For example, 2015 honorees in Florida included such diverse firms as IT staffing, the Internet of Things, electronic systems, shower enclosures, purchasing systems, and public relations. “Companies to Watch takes a holistic approach, identifying companies across the state that represent Florida’s future,” says Tammie Sweet, director of GrowFL. “It shows the economic potential of the entire state.”
Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions. You can also view the full list here.
- What do companies receive if selected as a Company to Watch?
- Awardees do not simply make it onto a list. They become part of a cohort of second-stage companies that are known for their distinguished leadership, innovation and impact.
Honorees receive the following: Special recognition at the Florida Companies to Watch event on November 3, 2016 at Hard Rock Live!, CityWalk, Orlando attended by business and government leaders from across the state; Complimentary tickets to the event (extra seats or tables are available for purchase); Trophy inscribed with your company’s name; Increased exposure to the media; A graphic announcing your company as an award winner (to be used on your website or in marketing materials); Recognition of your company in Florida Trend and I4 Business; A scholarship worth $9,000 to participate in GrowFL’s Strategic Research program; and an invitation to participate in future Florida Companies to Watch events, including a leaders retreat specifically designed for Companies to Watch award recipients.
- What is the Eligibility Criteria for this award?
- A company must be a second-stage company, characterized as established and growing firms as defined by the traits below. They are typically past the startup phase and face growth challenges rather than survival issues.
A company must meet the following for the year ending 2015:
Be privately held (not publicly traded and not a subsidiary or division of another company); Be a commercial enterprise, not a nonprofit; Be past the startup stage; Be facing issues of growth, not survival; Employ 6 to 150 full-time equivalent W-2 employees, including the owner; Have between $750,000 and $100 million in annual revenue or working capital in place from investors or grants; Be headquartered in Florida; and have not won this award in the past. Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow based on evidence such as: Employee or sales growth; Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership; Sustainable competitive advantage; and other notable factors that showcase the company’s success
- Who can nominate a company, and how can I do so?
- Anyone can nominate a company. Nominations typically come from service providers such as accountants, bankers, attorneys and public relations professionals.
Nominations also come from economic development professionals; trade, business and community associations; the media; and universities. If you wish to nominate your own company, you can either submit a nomination or proceed directly to the application. Complete a nomination form by May 6, 2016 at 5:00 PM Eastern time. All nominees will receive an email with instructions to complete an application (applications are due May 31, 2016 at 5:00 PM Eastern time). Only online nominations and applications will be considered. Nominate at www.growfl.com/flctw16/nominate.
- How are award recipients selected?
- Award recipients are selected by a panel of judges representing areas of economic development, banking, entrepreneurship and small business. Judges look for evidence of fast and/or high growth in employment rates and revenue. In addition to being evaluated on past growth and projected success, applicants are also judged on their special strengths (see “What are special strengths?” below).
- I forgot my login — how do I retrieve it?
- If you are listed as a contact on your company’s application, simply go to the login site and select forgot password.
If you are not a contact on your company’s application: Because of confidentiality, we do not provide access to applications except to those listed as company contacts, or if the contacts allow us to do so. To expedite your request, contact info@GrowFL.com with your full name, title and email address. If possible, copy the company contact in your message. We will request permission from the contact person on record to share the online login account with you.
- When will a decision be made?
- All applicants will be notified by the middle of August. Companies that make it to the finalist round will be notified by the end of June 2016, but please keep in mind that all applications are active and eligible until the final decisions are made.