Companies to Watch

Companies to Watch (CTW) is one of the foundation’s recognition programs. Running in select locations, CTW starts with every influential player in the business community — forward-thinking public agencies, dedicated private enterprises and their professionals, progressive not-for-profits and influential community leaders. They canvas the entire state for companies that are quietly creating jobs, developing innovation and contributing to their communities. The companies are put through a rigorous application and selection process, and voila. Cue your goosebumps.

Get Smarter …

  • Get Smarter

    Companies to Watch (CTW) is among the foundation’s key programs for entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) and their communities. At the heart of CTW is an awards program to honor second-stage companies for the critical role they play in our economy and communities. Companies to Watch’s collaborative model is also a powerful vehicle to energize the entrepreneurial community in your state.

    Companies to Watch is designed to rally around second-stage establishments, their communities and the organizations that support them. In a nutshell, the program starts with a forward-thinking ESO:

    • Each state program is hosted by a local entrepreneur support organization.
    • Involvement is sought from every player in the business community to serve as champions, nominators and underwriters.
    • A big bash is held to celebrate the winners and their supporters.

    Learn more …

  • Why It’s Important

    We applaud whatever you do to bring attention to the second-stage companies in your communities. Are you looking for a program to recognize the driving force behind your state’s economy and to accomplish it in a collaborative way? CTW delivers the most important growth segment in your state — the second-stage companies that are often flying under the radar of recognition. For example, between 2011 and 2012, only 9.1 percent of the establishments in the nation were second-stage — yet they accounted for 33.3 percent of the jobs (source:

    See how CTW has benefited the states, organizations and companies where it has operated:

    • CTW is not your usual recognition program — it is a force to bring every element of the business landscape together. In Colorado, more than a dozen entities from the public and private sectors work together to deliver this highly dynamic program.
    • CTW transforms the reputations of ESOs from doing good work to helping companies that make a difference. Says former Michigan SBDC state director Carol Lopucki, the SBDC earned the reputation for “providing statewide visibility for companies on the cutting-edge,” adding that these companies are quick to say, “The SBDC nominated us because they’ve watched us grow.”
    • CTW changed the conversation from “too big to fail” corporations to “too hot to ignore” second-stage companies during the recent recession. According to Chris Gibbons, who served as director of business and industry affairs for Littleton, Colo., for more than 25 years, “During the most severe economic event in 50 years, CTW honorees continued to innovate and create wealth — and most of them have kept adding jobs, which is astounding.”
    • In 2008 at the height of the recession, Michigan CTW winners were notable for 36% growth job creation. More than 1,200 jobs were created by these companies, giving an economically challenged state a cause for hope instead of despair.
    • To winners, CTW bestows instant credibility: “One bank specifically mentioned the award when they contacted us. Having people knock on your door instead of having to knock on theirs is impressive, especially in a down economy,” says Todd Anthony, CEO of in Indianapolis, a 2009 Indiana Companies to Watch winner
    • In the eight states where CTW has run since 2005, 1,190 companies have been identified. Those second-stage companies produced $8.8 billion in annual revenue and employed more than 41,000. Collectively, they projected growth to $12 billion for the following year. These companies are the role models of our new economy.
  • Implement Programs

    Putting Companies to Watch to work in your community begins with an inquiry to the Edward Lowe Foundation.

    In the meantime, ask if the following is true for your organization and your state:

    1. Is a supportive entrepreneurial community in place to help second-stage companies grow and thrive? Companies to Watch can be a catalyst for putting that entrepreneurial community to work. Every player in the business community can play a role.
    2. Does your organization have a strong foothold in the state to serve as a convener? And if you don’t already, how hungry are you to play that role?
      • Every entrepreneur support organization at the local, statewide and national level
      • Government agencies, their administrators and policymakers
      • Institutions of higher learning, especially those with entrepreneurship centers, technology transfer programs and strong alumni ties
      • Commercial service providers such as attorneys, accountants and bankers
      • Investors, including private equity, venture capital and angels
      • Vendors, suppliers and customers of second-stage businesses
      • The media, including print, TV, radio, and online
      • Employees of second-stage businesses

    Contact Joy Kitamori for more information.

What People are Saying

I had been to the foundation several years ago with my Women's President Organization chapter. So when I got the invitation to attend a retreat with other Companies to Watch honorees, I jumped on the chance. Unlike working with consultants, which can be very esoteric, the retreat's content was robust, giving me recommendations that I could incorporate into my marketing or business plans. The foundation really knows entrepreneurs.
Kathleen Duffy Ybarra, president and CEO of Duffy Research in Phoenix, Ariz.

Companies to Watch Team

  • Joy Kitamori

    Joy Kitamori

    Recognition takes many forms, and Joy can help bring attention to your entrepreneurs. Contact Joy.

"As a general rule, you don't touch the ears of a dog that bltes when you do. "
— Edward Lowe