LANSING — A West Michigan entrepreneur who’s led the Michigan Office for New Americans has decided to retire after serving as its director for more than four years.
Bing Goei, an immigrant from Indonesia and the former CEO of Eastern Floral and Gift Shop in Grand Rapids, launched the agency as its first director when Gov. Rick Snyder tapped him for the position in January 2014.
Snyder identified immigrant communities as a key piece in the state’s talent pipeline and business community and created the Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA) to lead “immigrant integration initiatives” in the state.
The office serves as the frontline for partnering on immigrant issues with various refugee resettlement agencies, economic development groups, universities, state commissions and other agencies.
“Serving the residents of Michigan has been an honor and I would like to thank Governor Snyder for his relentless support of our effort to make Michigan the most welcoming state for new Americans,” Goei said in a statement. “MONA’s initiatives and strong partnerships with immigrant groups will continue to attract global talent to our state.”
At the time of his appointment, Goei told MiBiz that he received a great deal of support from fellow West Michigan business leaders in taking on the government position.
“(T)hey are wanting to help me in moving this agenda forward,” he said in a report from February 2014. “My office is looking at not only what we can do in the public sector, but I’m beginning to make appointments with the private sector. We need the business community to understand this issue…”
Prior to joining the state office, Goei also created an incubator for immigrant businesses in Grand Rapids.
“Bing has been a leading force in bringing talented workers to Michigan and launching creative initiatives that allow immigrants to build on their chosen professions,” Snyder said in a statement. “Under his direction, the office has built permanent connections to our diverse immigrant communities and captured the entrepreneurial spirit of new Americans to help in our economic comeback.”
Snyder named MONA Deputy Director Karen Phillippi as interim director. Phillippi has served at MONA since March 2014. She previously worked at law firm Miller Canfield as it immigration business services manager.