Aquaco Farms named as 11th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch finalist

Man fishing in Aquaco dry fit shirt


St. Lucie County’s Aquaco Farms has been selected as a 2021 GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch finalist.

Aquaco Farms was founded by former commercial banker Joe Cardenas, who raised private funding to design, construct and open a 20,000-square-foot aquaculture facility on eight acres north of Fort Pierce in 2019. The farm is designed to sustainably produce 1 million pounds of pompano a year from just 100 fish caught in the wild. The company’s primary focus is wholesaling fresh, never-frozen pompano for delivery to commercial customers within 24 to 36 hours of harvest.

The GrowFL awards program honors impressive second-stage companies from throughout the state for developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities, and broadening new industries throughout Florida.

Together, the 11th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch finalists represent nearly 2,300 jobs and generate over $499 million in revenue. These companies, all of which are “worth watching,” anticipate a growth of 64% in revenue and 39% in employment by the end of 2021.

"Recognition by GrowFL as a Companies to Watch finalist is a great validation for us at Aquaco. We headquartered our company in St. Lucie County four years ago and have continued to improve on our craft every day,” said Joe Cardenas, Aquaco Farms founder and CEO.

The finalists were selected from close to 300 nominations across the state and are now in the running to be named a GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch honoree.  If selected as an honoree, these exemplary second-stage companies will join the 500 second-stage companies across the state that have been recognized since 2011.

“We applaud these first-round finalists who have proved themselves to be stand out companies in the state. These business owners demonstrate the resiliency and tenacity that goes hand in hand with being an entrepreneur. There is no doubt these business owners have been challenged over the past year, but their perseverance and ability to innovate has been admirable. We are excited to again recognize the outstanding businesses who continue to make a significant impact on Florida’s economy,” said Tom O’Neal, Ph.D., GrowFL founder.

The 11th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Awards celebration is made possible by Nperspective CFO & Strategic Services, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation.

The honorees for this year’s award will be announced in October. The 11th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch awards celebration will take place on Feb. 17, 2022, at Hard Rock Live, Universal City Walk, Orlando.

Companies to Watch was developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation as a unique way to recognize and honor second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes. In addition to evaluating past growth and projected success, applicant companies are judged according to their special strengths and impact in their markets, communities and within the state – thus deeming them “worth watching.”