GrowFL Earns Official Certification in Economic Gardening

Nationally Recognized Edward Lowe Foundation Accredits Florida Program as First in the Country
By: Florida Economic Gardening Institute
 
March 15, 2011 - PRLog -- ORLANDO, Fla. – Thanks to the specialized support its GrowFL program provides to growing second-stage companies throughout the state, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute at the University of Central Florida has been designated as a Certified Economic Gardening Program by the National Center for Economic Gardening which is affiliated with the Edward Lowe Foundation.  

As a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurship, the Edward Lowe Foundation is home to the National Center for Economic Gardening and has established a certification process for programs and individual professionals to earn accreditation in economic gardening.  The state-funded Florida Economic Gardening Institute is the first organization in the United States to receive Program Certification in the Center’s top-ranking Level Three, representing the highest engagement of economic gardening principles that is attainable.

“Economic Gardening is a concept that takes an entrepreneurial approach to job creation by focusing on helping existing growth-oriented, second-stage companies accelerate growth,” said Mark Lange, executive director of the Edward Lowe Foundation based in Cassopolis, Michigan.  “What we’ve seen in Florida is an incredible network of the Florida Economic Gardening Institute’s statewide partners working together to support and foster the growth of second-stage companies on a level that has never been achieved before.”

Chris Gibbons, co-creator of the Economic Gardening concept, helped start the program more than 20 years ago in Littleton, Colorado, after the city’s largest employer laid off 7,000 employees, dealing a huge blow to the local economy.  Gibbons has been advising the GrowFL team in the principles and practices of Economic Gardening.

“The principles that we put in place in Littleton to focus on entrepreneurial development are being replicated and tested in regions within multiple states including Kansas, Indiana, and Georgia,” said Gibbons.  “The Florida Economic Gardening Institute has effectively applied the Littleton model to the fourth most populous state in the country—and it is serving as a national model for how to succeed on a large scale.”

“This further demonstrates Florida’s leadership in entrepreneurial support,” said Dr. Tom O’Neal, executive director of the Florida Economic Gardening Institute and associate vice president for UCF’s Office of Research and Commercialization.  “What we’ve accomplished in one year is not only thanks to the Edward Lowe Foundation and visionaries like Chris Gibbons, but also thanks to the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem in place across Florida.”  

The Florida Economic Gardening Institute employs an economic gardening team of business analysts that will receive Professional Certification in their respective categories:  New and Social Media, Market Research, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  The institute’s leadership will also receive Professional Certification for the Team Leader category.  The Florida Economic Gardening Institute’s team has completed multiple training sessions, educational seminars and fieldwork to directly assist second-stage company clients of GrowFL.

In its first year, GrowFL helped entrepreneurial growth companies create at least 418 jobs throughout the state.  CEOs of second-stage businesses have had more than 1,300 encounters with the program, against the program’s initial goal of 1,000 encounters.

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GrowFL is the official Economic Gardening Technical Assistance Program for the State of Florida and a program of the Florida Economic Gardening Institute. Created in 2009 to stimulate investment in Florida’s economy by providing technical assistance for expanding businesses in the state, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute is headquartered at the University of Central Florida under contract with the State of Florida’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development under the Executive Office of the Governor. Additional information is available at http://www.GrowFL.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 startup phase and seek significant, steady growth.
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Page Updated Last on: Mar 15, 2011
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