Florida Companies to Watch Gala to Spotlight 50 Companies

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Fifty high-performing companies from across the State of Florida, will be honored at the second annual Florida Companies to Watch gala event, hosted by GrowFL at the University of Central Florida and sponsored by SunTrust Banks, Inc. The event will take place on Friday, October 19 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL.

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, 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.

The winners of the 2012 Florida Companies to Watch award were selected based on their growth, entrepreneurial leadership, product innovation, social/community responsibility and competitive business practices. Many of the winners were nominated by commercial service providers and local economic development organizations, making this event a celebration for communities throughout the state.

In addition to the special recognition at the Companies to Watch gala, winners also receive an opportunity to attend the Edward Lowe Foundation leaders retreat at Big Rock Valley with winners from other states.

To purchase tickets to attend the event or more information, please visit www.florida.companiestowatch.org or call the GrowFL office at 407-823-6384.

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 March 31, 2012, SunTrust had total assets of $178.2 billion and total deposits of $130.0 billion. 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.

Contact: Cindy Barson
(407) 823-3642