Choice Hotels International has awarded a contract to Fredric Washington to develop six hotels, under the emerging markets franchise development programme.

According to the firm, this new contract with an African American entrepreneur represents the largest minority multi-unit franchise agreement executed under the programme.

Choice Hotels CEO and president Patrick Pacious said: “Choice Hotels has a longstanding, deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we strive to make every associate, franchisee and guest feel welcome, wanted and respected — that’s our brand promise.

“As part of that pledge, our emerging markets franchise development team is constantly working to help extend the opportunity of hotel ownership to those who have historically been less represented in the hospitality industry.”

Choice Hotels franchise development and owner relationships regional vice president for emerging markets John Lancaster said: “For nearly 15 years, our emerging markets department has been working to help make small business ownership a reality for underrepresented minority entrepreneurs.

“We are extremely proud of our history as the only lodging company with a team dedicated exclusively to growing a diverse franchisee base, and this multi-unit agreement, which is the largest we have ever entered, is a great example of how we are trying to accomplish that.”

Washington is managing partner of Southern Accommodations, and earlier served as the US Department of Housing and Urban Development lead in Florida under US Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The deal includes Sleep Inn – St. Augustine,  Comfort Suites – Fort Myers, Sleep Inn – Fort Myers, MainStay Suites – Fort Myers, Sleep Inn – Ocala, MainStay Suites – Ocala.

Under the emerging markets programme, Choice Hotels has awarded and financially supported more than 250 franchise agreements with minority and veteran entrepreneurs. Last year, the company signed 34 contracts, and  this year, it has signed 17 contracts so far.