The fourth annual Immigrant Entrepreneur awards are now accepting nominations through Friday, August 26. The fourth annual Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards will be presented Wednesday, November 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. at a statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event held at Bergen County Community College in Lyndhurst.
In New Jersey foreign-born businesspeople like the 2013 winner Jay Kulkarni, CEO of Theorem; 2014 winner Mario Casabona, CEO of Tech Launch; and 2015 winner Iftekhar Hossain, CEO of IH Engineering, have created more than one in three new businesses in recent years.
New Jersey ranks behind only California, New York, and Florida in companies started by immigrants. Altogether, immigrant-owned businesses in New Jersey took in annual business income of $6.2.
The awards highlight the history and academic influence of New Jersey’s immigrant entrepreneurs and their contributions to the state. The intention of the New Jersey Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards is to bring together business groups from across the state to join in celebrating the important role of immigrants to today’s economy. The awards honor immigrants for their achievements in growth, advocacy, innovation, sustainability, and leadership.
Historically, New Jersey’s immigrant entrepreneurs were responsible for the invention of the transistor, the modern brassiere, the submarine, Vitamin C, game theory, prong setting for gemstones, the chemical synthesis of penicillin and instant coffee. Iconic companies like Lipton Tea, Welch’s Grape Juice, Ballantine beer, and Colgate-Palmolive were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs who chose New Jersey for their homes and places of business. New Jersey was home to the first successful glass making business in the colonies as well as the largest marine engine building shop, the largest parachute production company, the fourth largest brewery, the sixth largest homebuilder in America — all of these companies were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs.
In 2013 nominees hailed from four continents and 15 countries including: Argentina, Brazil, Britain, China, Columbia, Ecuador, France, India, Liberia, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Senegal, South Korea, and Venezuela. The businesses represented range in type from high-tech firms to human service providers, from manufacturing operations to financial institutions. They represented small mom and pop businesses as well as large corporations.
“We believe that rather than send qualified foreign-born advance-degree graduates of U.S. colleges and universities back home to compete against U.S. businesses, Congress should encourage these individuals to stay in the United States by offering them permanent resident status,” wrote Einstein’s Alley, a business group and co-founding sponsor of the awards, in a statement. “We can further buttress our competitive edge, by expanding the H-1B visa program, which makes available to U.S. businesses some of the world’s most highly-trained professionals in fields across the business sector. What’s more, a significant portion of H-1B filing fees fund education and training programs to enhance the skills of U.S. workers, particularly in the technology fields.”
Einstein’s Alley is collaborating with other New Jersey groups, including regional and bi-national chambers of commerce, immigrant advocacy groups, and other community organizations to celebrate the role of immigrants in the economy and to honor the contributions of immigrant business leaders to their communities.
This year NJIEA will be honoring immigrants for their achievements in growth, advocacy, innovation, sustainability, and leadership, and we will name the 2016 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year. Nominations can be submitted to www.njieawards.org.