Updated March 23 at 9:23pm
small business

SEED names small business, banker of the year


NEW BEDFORD – Open for little more than two years, the Fairfield Inn & Suites New Bedford has been named the Small Business of the Year by the South Eastern Economic Development Corporation.

The $11 million hotel, which was developed thanks to a $2 million loan from SEED and Bristol County Savings Bank under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 program, has 106 rooms and employs 33. It was selected from a pool of 350 nominees by SEED, which presented the award at its annual meeting, held last week at White’s of Westport.

“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 Maria Gooch-Smith, SEED’s executive director. “In addition to the impact on tax revenue and employment, the hotel provides much needed quality hospitality in the area.”

The hotel and conference center is located a five-minute walk from the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in New Bedford Harbor and is owned by Lafrance Hospitality Co.

SEED presented its Banker of the Year award to Anthony Aveni, first vice president of Rockland Trust Co. Aveni, who has been with Rockland Trust since October 2008, is being recognized for being the commercial lender who has made the largest number of loans with SEED over the past year.

Aveni was also named Banker of the Year in 2008 by SEED.

In addition to its major recognition awards, SEED bestowed the following honors:

  • Gus Yankopoulos Regional Business Advocate of the Year, Jean MacCormack, the retired chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

  • Distinguished Service Award, James McEvoy, former regional vice president for TD Bank.

  • Special Recognition Award, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., for 32 years of “dedicated service to the region.”

  • Certificates of Appreciation, Elizabeth Balaschak, SEED director, and William Barnes, SEED director and treasurer.


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