NABHOOD on the Move

Doing business with minority suppliers will top the agenda when the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers meets July 19-22. Also prominent: Atlanta, a new locale for NABHOOD, which for its first nine meetings met in Florida, primarily in the Miami area. NABHOOD represents some 180 African-American-owned hotels.

This year, NABHOOD delegates will meet at the Atlanta Century Center Marriott, a hotel owned by Robert L. Johnson, head of RLJ Companies. Johnson, who is the focus of this month's cover story (pg. 22), made headlines this winter when he bought the 100-property portfolio of White Lodging Services for $1.7 billion. His right-hand man, Tom Baltimore, will address NABHOOD; Baltimore is vice-chair of the lobby.

“In addition to hotel ownership, we're going to be talking about how we as African-American hotel owners can change the paradigm of doing business with each other,” says Andrew Ingraham, NABHOOD president and CEO. “One of the challenges we've had is developing an ongoing program in terms of African-American ownership; we're still working on executive-level opportunities and on supplier diversity.”

In an effort spearheaded by RLJ, NABHOOD will “look internally at beginning to do business with each other and other minority vendors so we can show the industry it can be done,” says Ingraham.

Conference keynote speakers will include Mit Shah, president and CEO of Noble Investment Group; Mukesh Mowji, incoming president of the Asian-American Hotel Owners' Association (AAHOA), the powerful lobby on which NABHOOD models itself; and Don Barden, an African-American who owns Fitzgeralds Casino Hotels in Las Vegas, Mississippi and Colorado and, according to Ingraham, recently acquired all of Donald Trump's casino holdings in Indiana.

“We made a commitment last year to increase the number of African-American-owned hotels to 500 by 2010,” Ingraham says. “This past year, particularly with the RLJ acquisition — even though that's only one hotel company — we're well ahead of pace.

“We have a group of committed owners, from Bob Johnson and Tom Baltimore all the way down to Paul and Dolly Marshall, who just opened a 73-room Sleep Inn in Auburn, AL,” he says. “That's the key. We really have a commitment.”

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