Historically Black Morris Brown College in Atlanta was founded in 1881 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 2002, the college lost its accreditation due to an unstable financial position. It is now seeking to regain accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
The college has received a significant shot in the arm with the announcement of a $30 million investment from CGI Merchant Group, a minority-owned global investment management firm. The funds will be used to convert existing facilities into a 150-key upscale hotel and hospitality management training complex. Construction of the 90,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility is expected to begin later this year.
The hotel will join the Tapestry Collection by Hilton. The property will offer two food and beverage outlets, an outdoor terrace, and instructional space for the school’s hospitality students. The hotel will be in close proximity to Mercedes Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, tech giant Microsoft Corp’s soon-to-be Atlanta office, the State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association, and the Georgia World Congress Center, a major convention complex.
CGI Merchant Group has committed to the establishment of an endowment to fund several initiatives including financial aid to students, future expansion goals, and assisting minority and women-owned businesses in the surrounding community. Hilton Hotels will also be an active partner in the venture. Hilton will serve in an advisory capacity for Morris Brown’s hospitality management program, providing guidance on how the curriculum can best prepare Morris Brown students for any number of careers in the hotel business. Hilton also looks forward to contributing guest lecturers and facilitating job shadowing at local Hilton properties for Morris Brown students, creating pathways for internship and post-graduation career opportunities.
“It is heartening to see major hospitality players not only supporting our academic institution but making a concerted effort to advance equity in the industry as a whole,” said Kevin James, president of Morris Brown College. “Morris Brown has served as a beacon of opportunity for Black and minority students for many decades. We look forward to working alongside CGI and its partners as we continue to carry that legacy and create the next generation of minority hospitality leaders.”