A nominee for The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards 2012, Malee Thai, was one of six business owners given citations at a press conference marking the second annual Immigrant Entrepreneurship Month at the Massachusetts State House on October 19, 2012.
Thai fled to the U.S. 30 years ago after escaping the genocide in Cambodia where members of her family were killed. Today, she co-owns Pailin City, a landmark retail complex comprising a supermarket, restaurant and function hall in Lowell’s Cambodiatown. Thai was nominated in the neighborhood business category at The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards 2012 in May. Her story can be seen in The ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Interview Series.
Thai’s citation from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick recognized her significant contributions to the economic wellbeing of Lowell. The citation was presented by co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business Sen. Sal DiDomenico and State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry.
Today, immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a new business, creating jobs for Americans and enhancing our capacity for innovation. As a result, “immigrant entrepreneurs have helped to strengthen the Massachusetts economy,” according to Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Gregory Bialecki at the press conference. Mr. Bailicki emphasized the importance of this month-long celebration because “the national conversation does not do justice to immigrants’ contributions.”
Apart from Thai, other business owners honored for Immigrant Entrepreneurship Month 2012 were:
- Enrique Shadah (Venezuela), founder of high-tech incubator Startup Blvd. in Allston;
- Greg and Brendan Feeney (Ireland), who employ more than 200 people at Feeney Brothers Excavation Corp. in Dorchester;
- Wilton Rangel (Brazil), owner of Oliveira’s Restaurant in Everett; and,
- Dieufort “Keke” Fleurissaint, owner of Keke Fleurissaint Financial Services.