Chao Yan
General Business

Immigrant Entrepreneurs to Be Honored June 27

The NJ Business Immigration Coalition has announced that Alex Martinez and Paula Guevara, owners of Paradise Flowers Distribution in South River, are the winners of the 10th Annual New Jersey Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards, and will be honored at the Multicultural Business Expo on June 27 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Pines Manor in Edison.

Columbia native Guevara founded Paradise Flowers Distribution 18 years ago, when she was a college student and working as a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. She and Martinez have grown the business to become the No. 1 distributor and importer of hydrangeas. They own a farm in Columbia and in 2021, they bought a warehouse in South River, with the help of Valley Bank and the Small Business Administration. They also received 3 electric vans through the NJ Zip Program.

“We are excited to present the Immigrant Entrepreneur Award to Paula and Alex for their significant business growth and demonstrated positive impact on the State of NJ,” said Katherine Kish, awards chair, NJ Business Immigration Coalition. “They are among our group of honored award winners who are helping local New Jersey communities thrive.”

The Albert Einstein Award for Innovation

The Albert Einstein Award for Innovation will be presented to China native Chao Yan, founder and CEO of Princeton NuEnergy, a Bordentown-based innovative clean-tech company spun out from Princeton University in 2019 and focused on the direct recycling of lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles and consumer electronics. Princeton NuEnergy has been awarded a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign materials, enhance domestic manufacturing capabilities, and create well-paying clean energy jobs. They will team up with Argonne National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of California, Irvine to develop processes aimed at improving end-to-end recycling efficiency.

The David Sarnoff Award for Advocacy and Community Engagement

The David Sarnoff Award for Advocacy and Community Engagement will be awarded to Jaime Lucero, a native of Mexico, for his role as a “Servant Leader”, addressing the needs of the less fortunate and creatively and purposefully acting to create institutions that help meet those needs. In 2019, Lucero founded Fuerza Migrante, a binational movement of key migrant organizations from throughout the U.S. that empowers the Mexican community abroad through education. Under his leadership, it has created educational platforms tailored to the needs of migrants and their families here and in Mexico, signing partnership agreements with more than two dozen private and public educational institutions in Mexico, New Jersey and New York. Lucero came to the US at the age of 18, knew little English and possessed little money or marketable skills. He found a job as a dishwasher at a Queens restaurant. Thanks to his ambition and work ethic, he was able to buy a truck and begin a delivery business. Ten years later, he established a warehouse. Today, his Harrison-based Golden and Silver Inc. is one of the largest importers and distributors of high-end clothing in the United States.

Josephine Ho Award for Non-profit Entrepreneurship

Columbia native Diana Mejia, founder of the Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center in Madison, will be awarded the Josephine Ho Award for Non-profit Entrepreneurship. Self-funded from her personal retirement account 22 years ago, Mejia started Wind of the Spirit as a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, organizing and mobilizing for just immigration reform. Her organization helps develop a “responsible conscience,” putting the root causes and oppressed experiences in the center of the action. Today, the organization’s campaigns educate, organize and mobilize the immigrant community and allies for just and humane migration policies, advocate for human rights and dignity for all people, promote solidarity and a world of justice and peace, including immigration, advocacy, labor rights, health and safety, language access, conflict resolution, clean energy, etc.

The judges for this year’s awards were:

  • Entrepreneur, teacher, publisher Sheldon Sturges, Co-Founder Princeton Future
  • Mayra LaMantia, CEO & founder, Immigration Community Outreach and NJIEA 2022 Honoree Josephine Ho Award for Non-Profit Entrepreneurship
  • Lina Llona, president, Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Glenn Paul, serial entrepreneur and president,

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

Related Articles: