A Cambodian-American has been nominated for a prestigious award honouring business leaders with immigrant backgrounds in the state of Massachusetts.
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.