Awards honor businesses for job creation, entrepreneurship, and export growth and excellence

 Today, Governor Rick Scott, along with Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of Enterprise Florida (EFI) Gray Swoope, announced the Orlando area winners of the 2013 Governor’s Innovators in Business Awards during Florida Business Innovators Week. The awards recognize Florida companies in select industries that have influenced the state’s economic growth and diversification over the last year.

Governor Scott said, “The businesses we’re recognizing today helped create the strong economy we have in Central Florida.  Florida families can live, learn and work toward the American Dream because of the opportunities these companies provide.  They demonstrate how business can flourish and prosper in the Sunshine State, and we look forward to their continued success as we strengthen Florida’s opportunity economy.”

Secretary of Commerce Swoope said, “Florida and its companies continue to be the model for economic recovery and growth. Companies from every industry around the state have helped produce jobs and provide opportunities that companies in other states just haven’t been able to match. They truly deserve to be recognized for their resilience, innovation and achievements. On behalf of EFI, congratulations to each of these worthy companies and we look forward to their continued success.”

EFI has hosted the annual program for 30 years. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges that includes business leaders, past winners and EFI staff. Winners were recognized at a special event in the Governor’s Mansion this evening. The event was sponsored by Bank of America and Florida Trend magazine.

Highway Systems, Inc. of Sumter County won the Business Expansion award in a mid market. Highway Systems, Inc., a AISC SSB certified company, manufactures steel sign structures, sign arms, bridge mounts and other steel products. The company recently completed an expansion which included additional production space, larger overhead cranes, and welding and metal fabrication equipment. Highway Systems used only local suppliers for the expansion and estimate their total sales for 2013 to be more than $15 million.

“Being awarded with the Governor’s Innovator award for 2013 will provide our team recognition of all the hard work and dedication put forth daily at Highway Systems Incorporated. We work hard to be among the industry leaders in steel manufacturing. With Florida’s strong commitment to state growth and the road expansion that goes along with this, it has helped our company grow tremendously. The Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) Work Program investments in port, highway, bridge and other transportation infrastructure improvements that will strengthen Florida tourism as well as the future of exporting for Florida based manufacturers,” said Jason Bell, President of Highway Systems Incorporated.

Electron Machine Corporation of Lake County won the Export Excellence award in a major market. As a result of the development of the concentrated citrus industry, Electron Machine Corporation created the first in-line process refractometer. They recently added a full-service distributor in China and developed a new product for the Chinese market. Exports to the region have steadily increased and their world-wide exports accounted for 53 percent of sales in 2012.

President of Electron Machine, C.A. Vossberg said, “Electron Machine is proud to be recognized for our achievements in export manufacturing. Our deep roots within the electronic instrumentation industry have provided a solid foundation for continued excellence as a vertically-integrated manufacturer. A key contribution to Electron Machine’s success is our highly-skilled team of customer-oriented personnel who value the quality of life in Central Florida. In addition, pro-business policies allow Electron Machine to successfully compete internationally by providing high-quality products at a reduced cost to our customers. Since the success of small-businesses like Electron Machine is vital to the economy as a whole, we encourage Governor Scott, State Senator Hays, and the Lake County Board of County Commissioners to continue their focus of providing a pro-business environment to promote the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Westgate Resorts of Orange County won the Innovation and Expansion in Tourism and Hospitality award in a mega market. Westgate Resorts plans to expand its marketing operation to fund two to three additional resorts in world-class locations, thus expanding their corporate structure in Orlando. The expansion will add jobs in their call centers, marketing departments and other aspects of the business’s corporate culture.

“We are honored to be recognized as a leader in the hospitality and tourism industry,” said David Siegel, President and CEO of Westgate Resorts. “We had the best year in the 44 year history of our company and hired thousands of new team members. We want to thank our Governor Rick Scott for making Florida a great place to do business.”

Seven Gun Games of Marion County won the Newcomer’s award in a major market.  Started in 2013, Seven Gun Games has 14 mobile games in their catalogue, with four in the iTunes App Store. One of their titles, Ramp Champ, was named Macworld’s Best Designed iPhone Game.

President of Seven Gun Games, Duane Schor said, “Receiving this award is an incredible honor. Seven Gun Games has been working tirelessly since day one to pursue excellence in everything that we do. Being recognized for our work makes us even more determined to fulfill our mission of creating fun original mobile games for iOS and to stay and build our community. Seven Gun Games is allowing people who have a passion for working with games to stay in our area without having to relocate. Located in the heart of the technology corridor of Florida, we are the heartbeat of Marion County’s mobile applications and gaming industry. Empowered by many of Governor Scott’s forward-thinking policies, we have positioned ourselves to the front of iOS research and development within the Marion County area. Our team is comprised of some of the most innovative and tech savvy talent Central Florida has to offer. We are a small team with a big heart and we look forward to showing the world Ocala isn’t just about the horses.”

Three awards were given in each of the following categories:

  • Governor’s Business Expansion Award: Florida companies that expanded their operations in 2012, investing capital and creating jobs for Floridians.
  • Governor’s Newcomer Award: New-to-Florida companies that began business operations in 2012.
  • Governor’s Export Excellence Award: Florida companies with new or significant increases in documented export sales in 2012.
  • Governor’s Innovation/Entrepreneurship Award: Florida start-up companies or innovative companies that have set a standard for entrepreneurship and creativity in the past three years.
  • Governor’s Innovation in Tourism and Hospitality Award: Florida companies that best exemplify innovation developed through product or process in the last three years.
  • Governor’s Rising Star Awards: Rising Florida companies that have shown a commitment to business growth, professional excellence and involvement in their communities.

 

To see the full list of this year’s winners please click here.

 

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