Enrollment in GrowFL Economic Gardening Program Passes 200 Company Mark

By: Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Release
By: Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 14, 2011) –

The Florida Economic Gardening Institute reached another milestone this week when its GrowFL initiative accepted the 200th company into the advanced technical assistance program. As the only program in the country to earn official accreditation in economic gardening, GrowFL provides client companies with a suite of economic gardening tools including sophisticated market research and recommendations to prepare second-stage companies to grow to the next level. Collectively, the 200 companies that have received assistance from the program generated $860 million in revenue and employed 4,725 workers in 2010.

The GrowFL program’s team of economic gardening analysts has helped second-stage companies from across Florida with advanced tools to help them evaluate competitor markets, define their core business strategies, optimize Internet marketing and utilize geographical information systems to enhance business development and sales efforts.

“The 200 businesses that we’ve served demonstrate the unique qualities of growth-oriented companies,” said 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, “and they represent those most likely to grow Florida’s economy. By giving them advanced market research tools, our GrowFL Economic Gardening team can prepare these companies to grow to the next level.”

The Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County manages the GrowFL program for the northwest region of Florida. To date, 14 northwest Florida companies have been accepted into the program.

“We are proud to do our part to cultivate growth companies in our region” said Kara Palmer Smith, senior manager of business development for the EDC. “Through this program our businesses are receiving access to high-end, quick-response technical assistance and business resources typically available only to larger companies.”

In a survey conducted in October 2010, 124 GrowFL companies reported creating 418 jobs as a result of participating in the economic gardening program. In addition to creating new jobs, companies that have participated in the program have reported other anecdotal benefits to their company’s bottom line.

“We think the program is outstanding and would hope Florida's Legislature will continue the program going forward. In this economy, a program of this nature can be a great catalyst to new growth for employment in Florida for small businesses,” said Bennett Napier, CAE; CEO of Partners in Association Management in Tallahassee, Florida.

The one-on-one technical assistance program is complemented by GrowFL’s other economic gardening services including CEO roundtables, CEO forums and referral services, administered in conjunction with statewide economic development organization partners.

Interested companies with 10 to 50 employees are encouraged to attend a free informational lunch session on April 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the EDC (115 N. Calhoun St.). RSVP to Kara at kpalmer@taledc.com.

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