The first three nominations for this year’s ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards are in, and they are fine examples of how immigrants are enhancing our neighborhoods.
Tails, Inc., Jamaica Plain
from Dominican Republic
Yessy Feliz opened a very small storefront business for boarding dogs in October 2012. Less than five years later, her business has become so popular that it grosses enough revenue to employ more than 22 people who live in the neighborhood, most of whom speak second languages. Tails is an integral part of the neighborhood’s personality. It not only provides a needed service to local pet owners, it also serves as a convening location for people to interact spontaneously and to celebrate special events.
In October 2016, Feliz seized the opportunity to merge the two storefronts she was operating on opposite sides of Centre Street into one complex of boarding facilities, retail space, and open areas for doggie exercise. She also soundproofed the buildings, much to the delight of the neighbors.
Mario’s Sub & Salads, Roxbury
Mario Cruz started Mario’s Subs & Salads in 2006. The sub shop is a popular destination and even won a people’s choice competition run by Dudley Square Main Streets.
Cruz recently decided that continued success would require some upgrades to keep up with the times and grow. He is expanding the restaurant physically and adding offerings such as burritos, tortas, Spanish stews and tostadas to the menu. He has also added three new part-time jobs.
Cruz is active in community events. He donates food for National Night Out and holiday celebrations and participates in Main Streets promotions.
Envision Digital Group, Worcester
Khamtam Inthirath is the founder of the digital marketing firm Envision Digital Group. In addition to providing superior service to his clients, he is heavily involved in his community. Inthirath shares his expertise as a volunteer business advisor for the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce and a mentor to students at his alma mater, Providence College. His firm donates services, such as videos for Boston and Worcester “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” campaigns, awareness campaigns about the opioid abuse epidemic in MA and a workforce development campaign for National Manufacturing Day. As a member of Discover Central Massachusetts’ PR/marketing committee, Inthirath also promotes travel and tourism to Central Massachusetts.
For his business success and propensity to give back, Inthirath was recently honored as a 40-under-40 recipient by the Worcester Business Journal.