GrowFL helps business flourish
Published: Friday, November 26, 2010
By ED BALDRIDGE
AVON PARK -- Members of the Avon Park Chamber of Commerce were introduced Tuesday to a relatively new program in Florida that is designed to help their businesses create jobs for free.
Imagine that you started a business, it is out of the start-up phase, and it has grown to the point where you are limited in making decisions only by your knowledge.
You know you could grow more, and create jobs, but you are in that place where you cannot afford the consulting or information services, and you don't have access to the large customer data bases you need to move forward.
What do you do?
In most cases, the business stalls, or plateaus, unless there is a way to gain that knowledge, and quickly.
That is where GrowFL enters the picture.
"And it's free," said presenter Keith Engh of the Florida Gardening Institute.
"The program is designed to give existing Florida businesses an advantage by providing information and executive services, and it's free," Engh repeated.
The operation is based out of the University of Central Florida, and supplies the tools needed for existing businesses with 10-100 employees to take that next step.
Engh's presentation showed how GrowFL provided high-tech tools -- like potential customer databases, market research and business consulting -- to a qualified business.
"GrowFL is literally an economic gardening program, cultivating avenues since 2009 to create over 400 jobs in Florida," Engh said.
"We provide information and knowledge, we help develop and cultivate infrastructure and we develop connections for growing businesses," Engh explained. "And it's fast.
"When a business needs information to act on an opportunity, they need it now. We provide that information fast. If you apply, you hear back from us within 24 hours. What good would information be if it took a year to get back to your businesses?" Engh asked.
"The program is funded by the Florida Legislature at the University of Central Florida and involves a host of partners committed to local delivery of statewide services to help companies achieve their potential."
Engh also stated that GrowFL would only help about 6 percent of the businesses in Highlands County.
"But that 6 percent employs over 34 percent of the workforce in Highlands County. And that can grow," he explained.
Engh had only 45 minutes to make his presentation, but encouraged businesses to follow through to get more information from GrowFL.
"Apply on the website, even if you do not have 10-99 employees, you can get access to some of the services," Engh said.
There are some criteria needed to get the full range of services, such as being a stage two business (one that has 10-99 employees and gross over $1 million per year), but Engh assured everyone that there is some leeway there.
"We are trying to be an inclusive program, not an exclusive one, so apply," Engh said.Those interested in getting more information should go to the GrowFL website at http://www.groefl.com or contact the Avon Park Chamber of Commerce at 453-3350.