GrowFL Now Accepting Applications 2017 Florida Companies to Watch Awards

Second-Stage Businesses Compete to Earn Prestigious Honor

Applications are open for the seventh annual Florida Companies to Watch® awards program. The event will honors 50 select second-stage companies from throughout the state for developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities, and creating new industries throughout Florida.

Eligible applicants must be privately held, second-stage commercial enterprises. Qualifying companies must also be headquartered in the state of Florida, employ between 6 and 150 employees, and earn between $750,000 and $100 million in annual revenue. A selection panel of judges representing areas of finance, technology, entrepreneurship and small business select honorees that have demonstrated past and future growth opportunities, entrepreneurial leadership, product innovation, community responsibility and competitive business practices. Applications are open through May 6, 2017.  CLICK HERE to start the application process.

Economic Impact of 2016 Winning Companies

$421 million in total annual revenue in 2015 29 percent increase in total annual revenue compared to 2014 2,171 full-time equivalent employees 30 percent increase in 2015 total employment compared to 2014 719 net new jobs projected for 2016

Increasing Impact

From 2012 through 2015, these companies generated more than $1.1 billion in revenue and added nearly 1,200 employees, reflecting a 119 percent increase in revenue and 122 percent increase in jobs for the four-year period. That translates into a 30 percent annual growth in both revenue and employees.

These companies project continued growth in 2016, with a 30 percent revenue increase and 33 percent growth in employees compared to 2015. If their projections hold, these companies will have generated $1.7 billion in revenue and added more than 1,900 employees over the last five years — a 186 percent increase in revenue and 196 percent increase in jobs since 2012.

Aerospace Technologies Group
American Elite Molding, LLC
Analytics Partners
Automotive Broadcasting Network
Bracken Engineering, Inc.
CO2Meter, Inc.
Commercial Acoustics
DynaFire, Inc.
Findsome & Winmore
Gator Cleaning Solutions
Hell’s Bay Marine, Inc. dba Hell’s Bay Boatworks
Interventions Unlimited, Inc.
IT Authorities
iVenture Solutions, Inc.
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
Jerry Harvey Audio
JK2 Construction & Scenic
JMX Brands
Karins Engineering Group, Inc.
Key Lime Interactive, LLC
OZNaturals, LLC
Pegasus Transportation
PrimeGroup Insurance
Private Label Skin
Progressive Dental
Science First
TerraCom Direct
That’s Us Technologies
The Spice Lab
Wicked Dolphin Distillery
Widerman Malek, PL
Wood’s Fisheries, Inc.
Woof Gang Bakery
X-Link Medical Software Interfacing
Xeleum Lighting, LLC

Interested in being a part of the elite list? CLICK HERE for more details on the 2017 Florida Companies to Watch.



​Massive Navy expansion may be easier said than done for U.S. shipbuilders

Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal

The shipyards of General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. (NYSE: HII) are going to be busy if President Donald Trump follows through on his repeated pledges to massively increase the size of the Navy— but that won’t come without its challenges.

Increasing the fleet from 274 ships to 350, as Trump plans to do, might provide a revenue boost to the likes of General Dynamics. But it also entails some “operational risk,” according to a Thursday report from credit analyst firm Moody’s Investors Service Inc. The reason? “A build-up (let alone of such magnitude) has not occurred for many decades.”

I spoke with Bruce Herskovics, a senior analyst at Moody’s, about the big challenges the nation’s two shipbuilders will face in meeting Trump’s quota, and he said it largely comes down to the labor force.

Naval shipbuilding has slowed down so much in recent years that it even prompted Huntington Ingalls to close its shipyard in Avondale, Louisiana, in October 2014. That lends fewer resources to a larger job.

“It’s a big industrial manpower effort when you’re going to build a large number of ships coming off of a low base level,” Herskovics said. “You need to have a whole supply chain of labor that extends from high schools all the way to trained tradespeople willing to step up the volume.”

Navy ships are massive undertakings involving a lot of skilled labor. In the time it takes to build a single project, big chunks of the workforce can move on, and shipbuilders didn’t need to replace them given they were working on increasingly fewer ships. Now shipbuilders must ask themselves, “How do we get the supply chain of our labor force back to a level it needs to be at so we can meet this uptick in work?” Herskovics said.

Couple that with Trump’s plans to aggressively cut costs on the actual ships — and higher labor costs at a lower product price could be a tough calculus for shipbuilders.

Navel Ship

“We’ve gotta get a good deal,” Trump told workers at Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News shipyards during a visit Thursday. “If we don’t make a good deal we’re not doing our job. The same boat for less money. The same ship for less money. The same airplanes for less money. … It means we’re going to get more of them and we can use them.”

Herskovics agreed any increase in shipbuilding is likely going to involve multiyear, fixed-price contracts that lock in contractors.

“An administration that’s new that’s seeking to ramp up the build rate is likely looking to buy the ships at a price that is reasonable, so the Navy is going to be smart about what it pays for,” he said. “For the contractor, they have to be careful when they’re ramping up the workforce that they can make sure that they meet the cost that they baked into the bids that they put forward.”

Shipbuilders are already preparing for potentially lower margins. Huntington Ingalls, for example, plans to invest $1.5 billion in the next five years to help contain costs.

“We are focused on reducing costs in all of our shipbuilding programs,” Huntington Ingalls spokeswoman Beci Brenton wrote to me in an email. “We see the most progress in reducing costs in those programs that are mature and where we are have stable requirements, can leverage the economic advantages of block buys, and are in serial production.”

The good news? Navy officials have indicated that the major shipyards have the capacity to up their production.

“These yards have the ability, even in their existing facility and footprint, to dial up the production rate,” General Dynamics CFO Jason Aiken told investors last month at Barclays Industrial Select Conference in Miami.

James Bach covers federal contracting.

The State of American Business: Help Aviation Fly High

Plane in Flight

Courtesy of The US Chamber of Commerce

In his State of American Business speech U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue noted that aviation was an important part of “making America’s infrastructure the best in the world.”

Ahead of the 16th U.S. Chamber Aviation Summit on Thursday, let’s take a brief look at the state of American aviation and what policies are needed to support it.

Like a carbon fiber wing, the state of American aviation is strong.

Airlines as a business are healthy. In 2016, the number of domestic passengers increased by a little more than 3%. There’s plenty of confidence in the industry. A Gallup poll found the airline industry has its highest positive rating in 15 years. What’s more, the top four domestic airlines generating reliable profits has attracted America’s most-famous investor, Warren Buffett.

Air cargo is also healthy. Domestic air freight increased by 3.75% in 2016—its biggest gain since 2010.

There’s also strength in aircraft manufacturing. Through complex, job-supporting global supply chains, Boeing delivered 748 planes in 2016, and Airbus opened their first U.S. factory in Mobile, Ala. in 2016.

American aviation is also stretching beyond our atmosphere with private sector companies innovating and pushing the boundaries of space travel. The United Launch Alliance regularly launches satellites for NASA and the U.S. military, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX supplies the International Space Station white striving for a bigger goal: Mars.

There’s much that policymakers can do to support the continued health of this vibrant, innovative industry.

Airports are a key component to our infrastructure, so investing in improvements and modernizing the roads connecting them with cities and communities will ease the movement of both passengers and cargo. Any infrastructure-improvement legislation should include improving air travel.

In addition, later this year, Congress will need to pass legislation reauthorizing the FAA. This legislation needs to continue work toward a modernized Air Traffic Control System, and it should continue to grow Airport Improvement Program investment to meet infrastructure needs.

Doing these things will make air transportation more reliable, safe, and secure, and it will ensure that aviation continues lift our economy into the future.

Brazilian company opening first U.S. manufacturing facility in Jacksonville


Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal

Reporter Derek Gilliam

A Brazilian plastic bottle recycler has signed a lease for 100,000 square feet in Jacksonville to open its first U.S. facility, according to JaxUSA Partnership.

Mike Breen, a senior director with a focus on international projects for JaxUSA Partnership, said Clodam do Brasil signed the 100,000-square-foot lease at a warehouse at  5220 New Kings Road in Northwest Jacksonville.

The company will invest $7 million in the facility and hire 30 people to operate it.

The company will operate under the facility as Florida Plastic Recycling LLC.

“They have brought in two gigantic machines they purchased in Germany,” he said. “Those are the ones that do the cleaning, sorting, chopping up and production of plastic flakes.”

Breen said the company did not seek public incentives and was attracted to Jacksonville because of the transportation infrastructure in place. Specifically, Breen cited access to Jacksonville’s port and the interstate system.

“One of the key factors was the logistical location where they could easily reach their customers,” he said. “It wasn’t just Jacksonville as a region. The port, the interstates and the rail was very important. … They can bring plastic in by rail, road and ship.”

Clodam do Brasil plans to ship in plastic bottles to the Northwest Jacksonville site, where the company will then produce plastic chips to be used by other companies.

JaxUSA Partnership worked with Clodam do Brasil for about a year. He said the company was looking across Northeast Florida and South Georgia for an appropriate facility.

Jacksonville was also picked, he said, because of workforce availability in technology fields. He said the fact that Jacksonville is a city that recycles also helped attract the company.

The main questions that company officials had for JaxUSA Partnership centered around navigating the city’s bureaucracy, Breen said. He said the company officials did not encounter difficulties once they were directed to the right resources.

“They were very pleasantly surprised about how easily it was to work through that process,” he said.