Wednesday, October 6, 2010

1st Annual Florida Companies to Watch

Putting Second-Stage First
Florida Companies to Watch Awards Celebration
Recognizes Companies that Create Growth and Foster Innovation

Applications Accepted Until October 8

ORLANDO, Fla. (October 4, 2010) – The future of Florida's economy will likely be shaped by an elite group of privately owned companies recognized in the first annual Florida Companies to Watch awards program scheduled for February 17, 2011 in Orlando. This statewide event lauds the success of business leaders who have taken their operations to the "second-stage" of growth and hold the potential to continue to create new jobs in their communities and industries, thereby making a difference in regional communities.

Florida Companies to Watch is presented by GrowFL, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute at the University of Central Florida and ACG Florida, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation. Additional sponsors for the event include the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, Florida Business Incubation Association and the University of Central Florida.

Since its inception in 2005, Companies to Watch 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) that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace, exhibit innovative products or processes, or otherwise make those companies “worth watching.” Debuting in Michigan, Companies to Watch is being conducted across the country.

"Many second-stage businesses fly under the radar screen of typical awards programs," notes Dr. Tom O’Neal, executive director of the Florida Economic Gardening Institute and associate vice president for the University of Central Florida’s Office of Research and Commercialization. "These companies are quietly yet steadily creating jobs and improving the quality of life in their communities."

Companies in all industries are invited to apply by October 8, 2010. Complete award criteria and detailed information is available at the official web site

The economic impact these companies generate is significant. According to data obtained from 1993-2007 second-stage companies represented about 11 percent of U.S. establishments, but generated 35.7 percent of the nation’s jobs. (source What’s more, second-stage companies are introducing new products, services and technologies that give the United States a competitive 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 that reflect the economic makeup of the state.

“Companies to Watch takes a whole-business approach, identifying companies across the state that represent Florida’s future, not just major metropolitan areas,” says Dr. O’Neal. “It shows the economic potential of the entire state as demonstrated by the successes of second-stage companies. Being selected for the Florida Companies to Watch awards program provides growing businesses the credibility and recognition that distinguish them among their competitors. Our new partnership with ACG Florida provides the opportunity to raise the profile of selected companies among the statewide corporate community. All second-stage companies are encouraged to apply.”



Like partners of other statewide Companies to Watch programs, ACG recognized the importance of giving innovative entrepreneurs a day in the sun, showcasing the power of growing companies in Florida’s backyard.

One sponsor of the Indiana Companies to Watch program utilized the partnership with ACG to connect with winning companies in providing their business support services. “Indiana Companies to Watch gives us a direct conduit in which to approach potential clients and make them aware of us," said David W. Amick, executive director at Premier Capital Corp. in Indianapolis.

To be eligible for the award, a company must be a privately held, commercial enterprise that is currently in a stage of growth and past the start-up phase. Qualifying companies must also be headquartered in the state of Florida, employ between six and 99 employees, and have between $750,000 and $50 million in annual revenue. Again, companies in all industries are invited to apply by October 8.

A selection panel of judges representing areas of economic development, banking, entrepreneurship and small business look for evidence of fast and/or high growth in employment rates and revenue. In addition, Florida Companies to Watch award recipients also demonstrate special strengths and traits that stand out from the competition including entrepreneurial leadership, product innovation, social/community responsibility and competitive business practices.

In addition to the recognition of being named a Florida Companies to Watch award winner, companies have the opportunity to participate in a leaders retreat attended by former Companies to Watch award recipients from other states at the Edward Lowe Foundation’s Big Rock Valley retreat facility in southwestern Michigan.

For additional information, visit or email or contact Lynn Aitken at 407-823-6384.

About the Edward Lowe Foundation

Established in 1985, the Edward Lowe Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurship through research, recognition and educational programs, which are delivered through entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs). The foundation focuses on second-stage companies—those that have moved beyond the start-up phase and seek significant, steady growth. For more information, visit

About the Florida Economic Gardening Institute

The Florida Economic Gardening Institute was created by the 2009 Florida Legislature as the Economic Gardening Technical Assistance Program to stimulate investment in Florida’s economy by providing technical assistance for expanding businesses in the state. Qualified companies must be engaged in the following sectors to receive no-cost technical assistance: Manufacturing; Finance & Insurance Services; Wholesale Trade; Information Industries; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Management Services; and, Administrative & Support Services. Additional information is available at

About ACG

ACG Florida is a statewide collaborative effort by the four Florida chapters of the Association for Corporate Growth - Orlando, North Florida, South Florida and Tampa Bay. The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) is the global community for middle market M&A dealmakers and business leaders focused on driving growth. ACG members have access to data, content and networking to access capital, make deals and drive corporate growth. Founded in 1954, ACG has grown to more than 13,000 members organized in 55 chapters throughout North America, Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit

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