Florida Companies to Watch Event Spotlights 50 Companies

           Florida Companies to Watch Event Spotlights 50 Companies

Creates New Movement of Support for Top Performing Second-Stage Companies

PR Newswire

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 25, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Ranging in industries from
information technology, software, healthcare and auto parts, fifty
high-performing companies from across the State of Florida, were honored at
the second annual Florida Companies to Watch celebration  event on Friday,
October 19 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL. Hosted by GrowFL
at the University of Central Florida, in partnership with the Edward Lowe
Foundation and sponsored by SunTrust Banks, Inc. and with special support
provided by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the awards event
attracted nearly 400 attendees in celebration of the impact these companies
generate to our state.

Florida Companies to Watch is a unique awards program that honors second-stage
growth companies for their impressive employment rates and revenue growth.
These companies have a reputation for generating a large portion of new jobs
and strengthening Florida's economy.

The combined impact of the Class of 2012 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 employee positions. The companies
collectively created 350 net new jobs compared to the previous year. Between
2008 and the end of this year, these companies will have generated $1.4
billion in revenue and added 1,297 employees 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. For a complete list of this year's winners please
visit the Florida Companies to Watch website. *Data compiled in August 2012.

Florida's Governor Rick Scott provided the opening remarks via video. He
congratulated the 50 up-and-coming "Companies to Watch" on their contributions
to economic development and job creation, which are his priorities for the
State of Florida. He celebrates their spirit of entrepreneurship, hard work,
ingenuity and their important contribution of providing jobs for Florida's
families.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs welcomed the winning companies and event
attendees to Orange County, reinforcing the importance of supporting
innovation and entrepreneurship. Mayor Jacobs has also had made tremendous
progress and growth in yielding opportunities for Central Florida, while
upholding the reputation that Orange County is not only the tourism capital of
the world, but the world's best destination to live, learn, work, play, and do
business.

Among the featured speakers for the evening were Dr. Tom O'Neal, executive
director of GrowFL at UCF and vice president of UCF's Office of Research and
Commercialization. O'Neal's goal for producing the Florida Companies to
Watch awards program is to celebrate a second-stage growth company's
transition from small to big, hoping the event will transform into a
"movement." Mark Lange, executive director of the Edward Lowe Foundation
stated that "people frequently use the term 'entrepreneur' to refer to small
businesses, but entrepreneurship encompasses a broad spectrum, and there's a
big difference between small-business entrepreneurs and growth-oriented
entrepreneurs."

Penny Lewandowski, the director of entrepreneurship at the Edward Lowe
Foundation, explained the importance of telling a "compelling story." She
opened with the all-important "once upon a time" and showed how each of the 50
winning companies could turn their company's story into something compelling
because that is how they got to where they are today.

Richard Bendis a highly distinguished and successful entrepreneur, served as
the keynote speaker. He is also the founder, president, and CEO of Innovation
America, which is a globally Intermediary focused on accelerating growth of
the entrepreneurial innovation economy in America.

The event was presented and sponsored by SunTrust Banks, Inc. David Fuller,
chairman, president and CEO of SunTrust Bank, Central Florida congratulated
the winners of this year's class of Companies to Watch, recognizing that
second-stage companies bring the possibility of growth and more jobs into our
communities and the state.

Nominations and applications for Companies to Watch 2013 are being accepted
now at florida.companiestowatch.org. Details about sponsorships are also
available.

About 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. Website: growfl.com

About SunTrust Banks, Inc.
SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest
banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial,
corporate and institutional clients. As of September 30, 2012, SunTrust had
total assets of $173.2 billion and total deposits of $127.2 billion. Through
its flagship subsidiary, SunTrust Bank, the Company operates an extensive
branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic
states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The
Company also serves clients in selected markets nationally. Its primary
businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through
various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance,
brokerage, investment management, equipment leasing and investment banking
services. SunTrust's Internet address is suntrust.com.

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 EdwardLowe.org.

About the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state's economic,
workforce and community development efforts. This new approach helps expedite
economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities.
For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job
seekers, please visit floridajobs.org.

SOURCE GrowFL

Website: http://www.growfl.com
Contact: Cindy Barson, +1-407-823-3642, cindy.barson@ucf.edu
 
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