The Edward Lowe Foundation, which promotes entrepreneurship as the strategy for economic growth, has contracted with the University of Central Florida’s successful GrowFL team to provide economic-gardening services for other communities and states.
The Florida Economic Gardening Institute at UCF, which administers the GrowFL Program, is the first organization in the nation to be certified by the Michigan foundation as a Level III top-ranking economic-gardening provider. As a result of that certification, the UCF program was selected to work as part of Lowe’s National Strategic Research Team to help share techniques about economic gardening.
“What we’ve seen in Florida is an impressive capability and level of experience that fosters the growth of second-stage companies using the certified GrowFL team and the economic-gardening tools and techniques they are now deploying,” said Mark Lange, executive director of the foundation based in Cassopolis, Mich. “We want to harness the enthusiasm, energy and expertise of the UCF team to help other states and regions to implement an economic-gardening initiative and perhaps turn the corner during these difficult economic times.”
Working with the National Center for Economic Gardening, the UCF GrowFL team’s first assignment will be in Indiana, where the team will provide services for second-stage companies as part of the Elevate Ventures Economic Gardening Pilot Program. The services will include assistance in business strategy, market research, competitive analysis, web/social media strategy, and search engine optimization.
The Edward Lowe Foundation is providing GrowFL with $249,375 for six months of service, which will be provided by GrowFL’s staff and advisers.
“We are honored that the Edward Lowe Foundation is turning to UCF and the GrowFL team to help even more states and communities with their successful strategy of assisting growth-oriented companies to grow,” said Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for research & commercialization at UCF and executive director of the Florida Economic Gardening Institute.
The institute’s GrowFL program has worked with more than 400 companies in Florida since 2009. An economic-impact study released in August found that GrowFL helped more than 300 companies create 3,285 jobs and has contributed more than $510.4 million to Florida’s economy. In September, state funding for the initiative ended and the program began working directly with communities to tailor offerings to meet the needs of their particular industries.