GrowFL Announces 2017 Florida Companies to Watch Finalists

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GrowFL Announces 2017 Florida Companies to Watch Finalists: The Amazing Explorers Academy Executive Team. From left Marcello Spinelli, Chief Financial Officer; Marnie Forestieri; Fabrizio Spinelli, Chief Marketing Officer and Eric Koeser, Chief Operating Officer.

Orlando, Florida (June 13, 2017) – Amazing Explorers Academy®,  was among the first round of 2017 Florida Companies to Watch finalists recently announced by GrowFL.  The awards event – now in its seventh year – honors 50 select second-stage companies from throughout the state of Florida for developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities, and broadening new industries throughout Florida. Chosen from a candidate pool of more than 800 nominations, the finalists collectively represent $598 million in annual revenue and employ 3,200full-time equivalent employees.

“It is an honor for Amazing Explorers Academy to be considered for this award and we thank GrowFL for recognizing the work that we are doing to provide children with an educational preschool environment that truly prepares them for the 21st century and beyond,” says Amazing Explorers Chief Learning Officer. “When we launched our first school in Waterford Lakes in 2015, we had a vision to bring innovative, hands-on learning experiences to kids from infancy, though their toddler years and into pre-kindergarten. Now, as we prepare to open seven schools over the next year, including our first two franchises in Orlando’s Lake Nona neighborhood in Florida, we are redefining the next generation of educational preschools and the children we serve. That is what Amazing Explorers Academy is all about enriching the lives of our youngest citizens and we are thrilled that GrowFL sees our potential and the impact of our work on our communities.”

The Florida Companies To Watch program consists of two rounds of selections.  Finalists now advance to the second round, where they will be further evaluated based on their performance in the marketplace, innovative products, services or processes, philanthropy and empowered employees.

“We applaud these first round finalists who have shown how they stand out in their regions as innovative business leaders, going to the next level to grow their companies.   They are true rock stars,” says Dr. Tom O’Neal, GrowFL Executive Director.

The Finalists represent a unique group of scalable, high-growth enterprises that are already located within Florida. These high growth enterprises are an important segment of our economy and their numbers have been steadily increasing, which contributed to Florida’s ranking of 24 on the Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship. According to this report, “entrepreneurship is not a monolithic phenomenon, and it includes many moving parts. Creating new businesses is a different economic activity from running small businesses, which in turn is different from growing businesses.”  Florida Companies to Watch recognizes the different approach needed to successfully grow and scale a business, and celebrates those that are working to achieve this goal.

Presented by GrowFL and developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation, Florida Companies To Watch is a distinguished awards program specifically designed to seek out second-stage businesses from a wide range of industries representing all areas of the state, not just those in major metropolitan areas. In addition to evaluating past growth and projected success, applicant companies are judged according to their special strengths and impact in their markets, communities and within the state – thus deeming them “worth watching.”

The winners will be announced in mid-July. The 2017 honorees will be celebrated at the awards ceremony October 14th at The Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, FL.

For more information visit

For more information on Amazing Explorers Academy® follow on social media on Facebook, Twitter @amazingexplorer, Instagram aexplorersorlando and LinkedIn.

MEDIA DOWNLOAD: HI-RES STILL PHOTOS available for free/unrestricted use by the media at

Media Contact: Katie Dagenais with JoLu Communications, 407.803.2499.

ABOUT AMAZING EXPLORERS ACADEMY® The Amazing Explorers Academy® concept was developed by a task force of leading thinkers in multidisciplinary fields, including university professors, technology experts and community leaders who helped identify the new challenges facing the early childhood industry. Amazing Explorers Academy® is a next generation preschool that educates its students through understanding and embracing the characteristics of the generation born into a digital world using STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The Amazing Explorers Academy® vision is to introduce 21st century skills to children at a young age when they are open to learning and curious about the world around them. Amazing Explorers Academy® began in Waterford Lakes, Florida, a suburb of Orlando, in 2015 and began franchising in 2017. Amazing Explorers Academy plans to open seven new schools over the next year, including schools in Lake Nona’s Laureate Park neighborhood.

ABOUT GrowFL GrowFL was created in 2009 as an economic development program focused on assisting second-stage growth companies prosper in the state of Florida. By providing strategies, resources and support to second-stage companies for next level growth through Strategic Research, Peer Learning and Leadership Development, GrowFL helps companies overcome obstacles to growth and leads them towards prosperity. Based on the philosophy of Economic Gardening® — to grow existing businesses in a community, region or state — GrowFL, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute, is a critical component to the state’s economic development strategy and Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. GrowFL is a statewide economic development organization certified by the National Center for Economic Gardening through the Edward Lowe Foundation.  GrowFL has assisted more than 1000 companies through the Strategic Research and CEO Roundtable programs and recognized 300 successful entrepreneurs through the annual awards program, Florida Companies to Watch.  Learn more at

ABOUT EDWARD LOWE FOUNDATION Established in 1985, the Edward Lowe Foundation is a national, 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. In addition, the foundation has a mission of land stewardship and is committed to preserving the natural resources and historically significant structures at Big Rock Valley, its 2,000-acre home in southwest Michigan. Learn more at

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