SEED Selects Fairfield Inn & Suites New Bedford as “Small Business of the Year”

The South Eastern Economic Development (SEED) Corporation has selected Fairfield Inn & Suites New Bedford as the “Small Business of the Year” for 2012. The hotel is located in the New Bedford Harbor just a five minute walk from the National Historic Park.

“We are very pleased to present our Small Business of the Year award to Fairfield Inn & Suites for the impact which this $11 million hotel has had on the New Bedford waterfront and the city’s economy with its 106 rooms and 33 employees,” stated Maria Gooch-Smith, SEED’s executive director.

The award will be presented to Richard Lafrance, CEO of Lafrance Hospitality Company, which owns and operates the Fairfield Inn & Suites, at SEED’s 30th Annual Meeting starting at 5:30 pm on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at White’s of Westport in Westport, Ma. 

“Richard Lafrance showed tremendous foresight and faith in New Bedford’s economic renaissance by developing the first city hotel in 40 years during a recession,” stated Gooch-Smith. “In addition to the impact on tax revenue and employment, the hotel provides much needed quality hospitality in the area,” added Gooch-Smith.

SEED’s Nominating Committee selected Fairfield Inn & Suites from a pool of 350 candidates.  SEED’s criteria included enhancement of the region’s economy through creation of jobs, and financial performance.  In 2010, SEED provided the hotel with a $2 million loan under the SBA 504 Program in conjunction with Bristol County Savings Bank for total financing of $9.3 million.

Fairfield Inn & Suites is part of the Marriott Hotels and Resorts chain. The five-story hotel has 82 rooms and 24 suites, four meeting rooms with 3,000 square feet of meeting space, a fitness room and an indoor pool. Adjoining the hotel is the Waypoint Event Center, a full service event and conference center.

Richard Lafrance has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry and is an experienced hotel manager. He represents the second generation of the Lafrance family which has owned White’s of Westport for many years.

SEED will present the “Gus Yankopoulos Regional Business Advocate of the Year” to Dr. Jean MacCormack, retired Chancellor of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, for her service to the region and its economy over a period of 13 years.

SEED will also present a Special Recognition Award to Congressman Barney Frank for his 32 years of dedicated service to the region. SEED staff will present the “Banker of the Year” award to the lender in the region who has participated in the largest amount of loans with SEED, and exemplifies the spirit of assistance to small businesses.

The guest speakers at SEED’s Annual Meeting will be Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman, and Robert Nelson, Massachusetts District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  At the meeting, SEED members will vote on a slate for officers, directors and members for 2013.

The slate for SEED Officers includes: Ferdinand Kelley, Chair; Richard Shafer, Vice Chair (Taunton Development Corporation); Gerard Nadeau, Vice Chair (Rockland Trust Company); Lorraine Travers, Treasurer (CPA); Paul Anghinetti, Assistant Treasurer (Bank of America); William Lewis, Clerk (Bristol County Savings Bank); Roy Nascimento, Assistant Clerk (New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce).

This past year under all its loan programs, SEED made 134 loans totaling $40.2 million, leveraging $73 million in bank loans and private funds and assisting in the creation of 692 new jobs. At the end of the year, SEED’s active loan portfolio totaled $105 million. 

SEED is a non-profit corporation certified in late 1982 by SBA.  SEED is an SBA 504 Program lender, an Intermediary Lender under the SBA Micro Loan Program, a Community Advantage Lender under the SBA 7A Program, and a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) under the U.S. Department of the Treasury. SEED makes loans ranging from $1,000 to $5.5 million to small businesses inMassachusettsand and Rhode Island.  

SEED’s directors and members are community leaders who represent government, business, finance, and community organizations.  Members meet on an annual basis to elect a board of directors and officers.  For more information about the Annual Meeting and SEED’s programs call 508-822-1020 or visit www.seedcorp.com.

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