WASHINGTON – Today Senator John Kerry congratulated Taunton’s Maria Gooch-Smith for being named one of the nation’s top Certified Development Companies for 2008 by the Small Business Administration. Maria Gooch-Smith is the executive director of the South Eastern Economic Development Corporation (SEED) in Taunton which lends small businesses money through the SBA’s 504 loan program to acquire or improve fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment. Last year, SEED made 143 loans totaling nearly $48 million and leveraging an additional $69 million. SEED is the largest 504 lender, a leading lender of micro-credit in Massachusetts, and participates in a fund to provide equity capital to growing firms through the Small Business Investment Company program.

“Maria and her staff are job creators. She runs a top-notch organization that effectively gets the capital out to our small businesses, and last year SEED helped create or retain nearly 700 jobs in some of our highest unemployment areas,” said Senator Kerry. “Her integrity, relationships with banks and dedication to entrepreneurial development are critical to the success of our small businesses and our economy in southeastern Massachusetts communities.”

Gooch-Smith is in Washington D.C. to receive her award during National Small Business Week. In 1993, Gooch-Smith was selected by the SBA as the state’s Small Business Financial Advocate of the Year for her role in expanding SEED to meet the financing needs of small businesses in southeastern Massachusetts. She oversees all of SEED’s operations including programming, staffing, budgeting, and financial reporting to funding agencies such as the SBA, the Economic Development Agency at the Department of Commerce, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Agriculture.