Immigrant entrepreneurs win awards from N.J. Business Immigration Coalition

South River, Bordentown, Harrison and Madison-based individuals honored for making a difference

The New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition honored first-generation business leaders at its 10th annual New Jersey Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards last week for their contributions to business, innovation, nonprofit work and supporting the state’s economic growth.

The winners of the Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award are Alex Martinez and Paula Guevara, owners of Paradise Flowers Distribution in South River.

The Albert Einstein Award for Innovation winner was 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.

The David Sarnoff Award for Advocacy and Community Engagement was awarded to Jaime Lucero of Harrison, 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 through Fuerza Migrante, a binational movement of key migrant organizations from throughout the U.S. that empowers the Mexican community abroad through education.

Colombia native Diana Mejia, founder of the Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center in Madison, was awarded the Josephine Ho Award for Nonprofit Entrepreneurship. Self-funded from Mejia’s personal retirement account 22 years ago, Wind of the Spirit is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating, organizing and mobilizing for just immigration reform.

“We celebrate New Jersey immigrant entrepreneurs who founded businesses in New Jersey, are creating jobs and are fueling the local economy,” Katherine Kish, awards chair, New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition, said. “These first-generation immigrant business leaders have made a positive impact on their communities and we honor their contributions to the state.”