LAWRENCE — Rafael D. Guzman says he is an immigrant who has fulfilled the American dream.
Guzman came to Lawrence from the Dominican Republic at age 15 in 1981, and after graduating from Lawrence High School, he earned a degree in electrical and computer engineering with high honors from University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
Today, he owns two commercial buildings and has renovated 225 Essex St., the former WCCM radio station building on Franklin St. and the former Arlington Mill.
On May 8, Guzman received the 2013 Immigrant Entrepreneur Award for Business Growth from The Immigrant Learning Center Inc. Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman was the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony.
“What a beautiful country we live in,” Guzman said in his acceptance speech during the dinner at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. “Not only does one get a real opportunity to succeed, but you can also get an award for your success.”
He was one of three local business people nominated. Maria Rosa owner of Yeska Cakes in Lawrence was nominated for Outstanding Neighborhood Business award and Yang Zhao, originally from China, was nominated for Outstanding Science/Technology Business award.
This is the second time a Lawrencian has received the award. Last year’s winner was Julia Silverio, owner of Julia’s Insurance and Silverio Insurance.
Guzman was flanked by his parents, Rafael and Luz; sons, Rafael, Benny and Javier and several of his staff members.
The youngest Rafael Guzman said he was impressed by his father’s speech.
”It touched me when he spoke about passing on education to better your future. My dad taught me that with hard work, perseverance and belief in yourself, anything is possible,” Guzman, 21, said.
Guzman purchased Malden Mills at 530 Broadway last December for $950,000 in partnership with the Lawrence Training School, which provides education for those seeking employment opportunities. Guzman and the training school spent $600,000 renovating the first two floors of the building. Now known as the Arlington Mills Plaza, it features two acres of land and 50,000 square feet. The building houses 11 small businesses.