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Ryan Lilienthal gives opening remarks at NJ Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards

NJ Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards Honor First Winners at New, Annual Program 

Madison, NJ— On Wednesday, November 20th, twelve business groups, advocacy organizations, associations, local and bi-national chambers of commerce in NJ hosted the 1st Annual NJ Immigrant Entrepreneur Award (NJIEA) Program at the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship, part of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business.

The awardees received awards named after historical immigrant entrepreneurs in New Jersey such as Nicholas Marcalus, George Merck , Ida Rosenthal.  The winner of the 2013 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards was Jay Kulkarni, founder of Theorem.  Kulkarni sent a video message, and his son Brian accepted the award on his behalf. “The paradox of the American dream is that it is highly sought after by non- Americans.” said Kulkarni. “It’s larger than an idea, more lasting than a mere dream; it is an ideal that fervently sought after outside of America.”  “Unlike one who’s born an American, immigrants become an American by choice and that’s a powerful statement,” Kulkarni added.

Jon Lau received the Einstein Award for Innovation.  Lau’s company, Applied Info, designs software technology for the US Army Training and Doctrine Command.  Lau came on a boat to the US as a child; and went on to become an industry leader in multimedia communication and technology innovation.  Lau stated, “This is my payback to the United States, because I truly believe this is the land of opportunity.”

Mordechai Rozanski, President of Rider University and recipient of the Special Award for Immigrant Accomplishment, agreed with that sentiment, “Unlike those who were born here, we came here by choice.  We worked harder, we achieved a little more, not only for our families, but to be worthy of the privileges of being an American – chief among them citizenship.”  According to Nicholas V. Montalto, member of Einstein Alley’s Immigration Task Force and MC at last night’s event, “It is entirely fitting that we should celebrate New Jersey’s preeminent status as a ‘continuing gateway’ for immigrants over the last two centuries.  States and cities that lost their immigrant attractiveness are suffering economically and are trying to lure immigrants back to their communities. We should never take for granted the incredible human resources that we have in New Jersey.”

“These awardees, originally from Liberia, Colombia, Senegal, China, India, Russia and Poland have a lot in common,” said Corinne Horowitz, with NJ Main Street Alliance.  “They have all brought their hard work, creativity, and ingenuity to our state, and created jobs, grown institutions, have made enormous contributions to their communities in other ways as well.”

“In New Jersey, nearly one in three business owners are immigrants” said Amy Hollander, with American Jewish Committee, another sponsor of the program.  “It is amazing what each of our awardees has managed to accomplish in their lifetimes.  Each of them has taken a leap of faith in America and in themselves.  They are role models for us all.”

“The awardees we are honoring epitomize the leadership of Immigrant business owners that New Jersey is built on, and we honor their contributions to the economy and local communities” said Nicol Nicola, of the MID Jersey Chamber.

It was quite an evening, said Paul Boudreau, President of the Morris County Chamber.  “We heard inspiring stories about the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs to our economy and the quality of life in our communities.”

The 2013 Awardees:

2013 NJ Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year; Sponsored by the Rothman Institute for Entrepreneurship FDU:  Jay Kulkarni, India, CEO & Founder of Theorem, Chatham

George Perrott Macculloch Award for Leadership; Sponsored by the Greater Monmouth County Chamber of Commerce: Louis Rodriguez, Colombia, Owner of Independent Power Systems Consulting, Marlboro

Ida Rosenthal Young Entrepreneur Award; Sponsored by the NJ Chinese American Chamber: Adenah Bayoh, Liberia, Owner of Irvington International House of Pancakes

Evelio Cuellar Award for Family Business; Sponsored by the Intersect Fund:

 Geetha Jayaraman, Malaysia, Owner of Grab em Snacks and Spoon & Sprout Café, Ringoes

Albert Einstein Award for Innovation; Sponsored By Einstein’s Alley:

John T Lau, China, President of Appliedinfo Partners, Somerset

Caspar Wistar Award for Growth;  Sponsored by Morris County:

Shau-wai Lam, China, Chairman and CEO of DCH Auto Group, South Amboy, NJ

David Sarnoff Award for Advocacy; Sponsored by NJ Main Street Alliance:

 Samia Bahsoun, Senegal, President and CEO of S2 Associates International, Holmdel

George Merck Award for Community Engagement; Sponsored by the Intersect Fund: Rita Gurevich, Russia, President and Founder of SPHERE Technology Solutions, Hoboken

Nicholas Marcalus Award for Sustainability; Sponsored by American Jewish Committee:  Mitrajit Mukherjee, India, President and Founder of Exelus, Fairfield, NJ

Special Award for Immigrant Accomplishment; Sponsored by MID-Jersey Chamber:  Mordechai Rozanski, Poland, President of Rider University