A Cambodian-American has been nominated for a prestigious award honouring business leaders with immigrant backgrounds in the state of Massachusetts.
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Phalla Nol, whose family is originally from Battambang province, was among 38 immigrants nominated for the 2019 Barry M Portnoy Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards, the Immigrant Learning Centre announced this week.
The ILC is a non-profit organisation dedicated to immigrant issues. It is the main organiser for the awards, named after Barry M Portnoy, the late founder and chairman of the RMR group, a major real estate investment trust in the United States. The awards, which are held annually, is now on its eighth edition.
Ms Nol joins a list of nominees from 25 other backgrounds, including China, Guatemala, Israel, Kenya, Vietnam, Haiti, Italy, Nicaragua, Spain, Mexico, India, Germany, Poland, and Egypt.
“More than a competition in today’s environment, where powerful forces were sending messages to immigrants and refugees, such as ‘go back to your country’, these awards send a message of gratitude to the international entrepreneurs who have chosen Massachusetts as their home to live [in], innovate and create jobs,” the ILC said in a press release.
“These entrepreneurs enhance Massachusetts’ neighbourhoods, grow the economy and cement the Commonwealth’s reputation as an innovation hub,” it added.
It noted that a winner will be chosen next month in one of four categories: Business Growth, Neighbourhood Business, High-tech Business and Life Science Business.
Ms Nol and her family run a farm called Phalla’s Produce in North Andover. They produce bell pepper, corn, eggplant, bitter lemon, luffa, and cucumber, which are then sold in markets in Massachusetts and community-supporter agriculture groups like the World PEAS food hub.
Massachusetts has a large population of Cambodians. Many of them were refugees who fled the marauding Khmer Rouge in the mid-1970s.
Ms Nol’s father was said to be a mayor in Battambang before the family immigrated to the US.