Madrid Award 2017Madrid Engineering Group (MEG), of Bartow, has been accorded a special honor.  It is one of only 50 nominees selected from more than 500 to be named a “Florida Companies to Watch.”

It is the only company from Polk County to gain that distinction.

“Florida Companies to Watch” is a statewide program managed by economic development group, GrowFL (, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation,  a national, nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurship through research, recognition and educational programs, which are delivered through entrepreneur support organizations (

According to Larry Madrid, the president and CEO of MEG, it started when he was contacted by the Central Florida Development Council (CFDC).

They told me, “We’d love to support and recommend you,” Madrid said. After reviewing the criteria, Madrid came away realizing MEG more than met the requirements, that of being a “second-stage” company, which are those operations defined as having six to 150 full-time employees and between $750,000 and $100 million in annual revenue.

Approaching Madrid and suggesting he apply was obvious to Sean Mallott, CFDC executive director.

“We wanted to see if we could find a company that could qualify,” said Mallott. “They saw the same merits we did.”

Madrid Engineering Group, Inc.’s merits include its management team, competitive market position and strong community involvement among several factors that put them in contention for the award.

“GrowFL,” he added, “focuses on companies that are growing and achieving significant advances.  It is a business accelerator program.”

While there are many programs and incubators promoting start-up businesses; GrowFL is the only Florida program that focuses exclusively on second-stage companies. As a result of being selected as a “Florida Companies to Watch,” MEG will be assisted by GrowFL in a number of capacities, including being provided strategies, resources and support to second-stage companies for next level growth through programs identified as Strategic Research, Peer Learning and Leadership Development.

Based on the philosophy of “Economic Gardening” — which is 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 that has assisted more than 1000 companies.

According to Madrid, people from those companies selected will attend forums, be guided by a mentor and eventually go to a retreat center where they will participate in exercises designed to help grow their companies. It will also include peer-to-peer roundtable conferencing. “We’ll get to share information, such as telling what your issues are, the challenges. You get to solve problems. I’m very excited about this.”

“Being selected is a singular honor, and one of deliberate purpose,” stated Dr. Tom O’Neal,  the executive director of the Florida Economic Gardening Institute and the associate vice president for the University of Central Florida’s Office of Research and Commercialization.

“These stand-out companies are all led by entrepreneurs, and have demonstrated their capacity and intent to grow,” said O’Neal. “They also all have critical intellectual property or a niche position that gives them a competitive edge in their markets.”

“This is a strong group of companies that deserve this special recognition given annually to the state’s top second stage companies,” said O’Neal.

Mallott is in total agreement.

“Larry is such an important leader. He’s committed to his community. It’s great to see he and his company named to Florida Companies to Watch,” Mallott said. “He’s a wonderful representative for Polk County.”

For his part, Madrid said one of the things he plans to take away from all this is having Madrid Engineering Group further the growth of the community, for the betterment of all.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the economy,” Madrid said. “When they flourish, the economy flourishes.”

Companies named to the list will be officially recognized Oct. 14 at the Straz,  Tampa.

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