Economic gardening programs have been around since the late 1980s, but have been gaining traction in the US communities over the past few years. In fact, there is now a National Center for Economic Gardening, along with specialized training and certification programs on how to become an economic gardener.
Along the way, lots of states and localities are embracing economic gardening. Florida, via its GROW FL program, jumped into economic gardening in a big way. The program had some early growing pains–mainly because of misguided decisions by Governor Rick Scott and his political team. But, GROW FL got back on its feet and is thriving.
A recently released legislative audit of GROW FL confirms what many of us have known for years. If policymakers provide sustained investments to support economic gardening, they’ll reap major benefits in terms of new companies, new jobs, and local wealth creation. According to the audit, assisted firms showed 13% job gorwh and 15% job growth after receiving support from GROW FL. These growth numbers, which far outpaced Florida’s averages, came in the midst of the Great Recession. If local politicians tell you that they want to support job growth, tell them to support economic gardening!