NJ Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards to be held at Fairleigh Dickinson


The Second Annual New Jersey Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards honor current first-generation immigrant business leaders helping local New Jersey communities thrive. The Awards, which will take place on December 9, 2014 at 6:30 p.m., at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus in Madison, NJ.,  were created in 2013 to highlight the history and academic influence of New Jersey’s immigrant entrepreneurs and their contributions to communities throughout the state.

The intention of the Awards is to bring together business groups from across the state to join in celebrating the important role of immigrants to today’s economy. The awards honor immigrants for their achievements in growth, advocacy, innovation, sustainability, and leadership.

During its history, New Jersey was home to the first successful glass making business in the colonies as well as the largest marine engine building shop, the largest parachute production company, the fourth largest brewery, and the sixth largest homebuilder in America — all founded by immigrant entrepreneurs.

The nominees for the 2014 Awards hail from 15 countries in South America, Africa, Europe and Asia, representing small mom and pop businesses as well as large corporations; ranging from high-tech firms to professional service providers, from manufacturing operations to food and financial institutions. Combined, the nominees employ thousands of people and generate millions in sales.

One of this year’s recipients is Mario Casabona, who founded TechLaunch LLC, an investor led Technology Accelerator that provides seed capital, co-working space, business training, mentors, and access to investors for aspiring technology oriented entrepreneurs. Mario is an immigrant from Sicily, Italy. His father was a barber and his mother a seamstress, and they both instilled in him a strong work ethic. Mario began his career as an RF design engineer for ITT Avionics but it wasn’t long before his entrepreneurial spirit took over, and he founded Electro-Radiation, Inc. (ERI), growing it into a business that employed dozens of engineers. Mario turned that company into a nationally recognized entity that was ultimately sold to Honeywell International in 2004.

Fellow nominee, Rita Gurevich, President and CEO of SPHERE Technology Solutions, was born in Russia, and started her company in America after working in the financial services industry where she gained extensive experience in architecting, managing and supporting infrastructure systems. Rita Gurevich started SPHERE Technology Solutions to allow others to leverage her experience from both the customer and vendor side, and she now leads her organization in providing business critical data governance solutions to her customers spanning multiple geographic locations and industry verticals.

SPHERE Technology Solutions is entering its fifth year of business, and each year since inception has more than doubled in growth. Focusing on Data Governance, Security and Compliance for unstructured and semi-structured data, SPHERE provides niche solutions in the form of specialized professional services, strategic software resale and custom integration. Rita recently involved her organization in a mentoring program with Hoboken High School students, inviting the youth to visit her company. Since 2012, SPHERE has also held fundraising events to support local charities in the surrounding communities.

These two nominees, and a score of other nominees (listed at www.njieawards.org) will take their place in the long line of New Jersey’s historic entrepreneurs who are responsible for such innovations as the first transistor, the brassiere, the submarine, Vitamin C, game theory, and the chemical synthesis of penicillin and instant coffee. Iconic companies like Lipton Tea, Welch’s Grape Juice, Ballantine Beer, and Colgate-Palmolive were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs who chose New Jersey for their homes and places of business.

The second annual awards are sponsored by a broad-based coalition of New Jersey chambers, associations and organizations; including AJC New Jersey, the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce of NJ, Diversity Dynamics, Einstein’s Alley, the Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, the Intersect Fund, the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce, the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, the Morris County Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce, the NJ Chinese-American Chamber of Commerce, the NJ Main Street Alliance, the New Jersey Historical Commission, the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University, the Statewide Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of NJ, the United Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of NJ, Welcome.us, and Wind of the Spirit.

For more information on registration and sponsorship opportunities, please visit the Awards’ website: http://njieawards.org/wp/. Tickets are $40.

FDU Office of Public Relations

Dina Schipper,
Director of Public Relations
Fax: 201-692-7019

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Helen Grill,
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Fax: 201-692-7019