Saturday, May 25, 2024

Hotels owned by blacks growing

July 18, 2007 by  
Filed under Money/Business, News

( The old Ferguson Hotel in Charleston is long gone but memory of it, like that of others of the kind in the country, lingers on in the tradition of black-owned hotels that goes way back.

Today, such ownership depends more on partners or partnerships than on the enterprising individual or family, say changing times.

G.E. (Cap) Ferguson sold his hotel that stood where Fairfield Inn now stands at Washington Street and Leon Sullivan Way. Ferguson also owned other properties.

The partnership approach to hotel ownership shines out at the Summit and Trade Show this week (July 18-21) in the Atlanta Marriott Century Center, which boasts of being the largest black-owned full-service hotel in Georgia, and one of the largest in the nation.

The sponsor is the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers. NABHOOD announced the event in a full-page New York Times ad on July 8, calling it, “Building Diversity in the Lodging Industry.”

“Nearly all the major hotel brands will use the event to recruit potential owners,” says NABHOOD President Andy Ingraham. “We are seeing a number of major brands coming to recognize the importance of having an African-American and nontraditional segment in their portfolio of owners, and they are putting more resources to help grow these segments.”

A hotel franchise is different from fast-food and similar franchises, Ingraham says. “Hotel owners enjoy the benefits of appreciating value of real estate, and can pass that property on to children,” he says.

NABHOOD started out last summer to create 500 new black-owned hotels by the end of 2010, but now expects to open 122 this year for a national total of 289, according to the ad. It notes that achieving the goal is well within sight.

It should be said that partnerships, in this case as in others, seek small and big investors, especially among rich black athletes and entertainers.

Black churches are an increasing source for partners or partnerships to tap for investments in the business and cause for progress, experience indicates.

Black abolitionist Robert Purvis owned a hotel and restaurant in Philadelphia. His partners included Quakers, Methodists and other whites. They helped runaway slaves on to freedom in Canada on the Underground Railroad.

As for Ferguson, he earned the rank of Army captain in World War I. His partners were other black officers and soldiers in segregated outfits serving in the war billed “to make the world safe for democracy.”

After the war, he built his hotel and a theater on the same spot. Duke Ellington and other black celebrities stayed at the Ferguson Hotel. They were barred from the Daniel Boone Hotel under Jim Crow laws and practices of that day.

When the barriers were finally broken by the civil rights movement and federal action, Ferguson was called upon. The management of Charleston’s then premier department store, The Diamond, arranged for him to be the first African-American to eat in its public cafeteria.

Plainly, he was made to wait so long for so little. The outlook is infinitely better for NABHOOD members at the table of opportunity with partners.

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