Stillman College held a meeting Thursday with community leaders to announce a program entitled Elevate Stillman, which aims to build a full-service hotel in Tuscaloosa's West End to help students learn hospitality and management skills.

Stillman is a designated Historically Black College and is located inside an "Opportunity Zone" created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to inject private capital into the traditionally undeserved economic zones where HBCU’s are located.

Today Stillman College President Dr. Cynthia Warrick signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Renaissance Equity / HBCU Opportunity Fund and HDG Hotel Group, formalizing plans to build a full-service hotel adjacent to the college's campus.

The fully functional hotel would also serve as a training hotel for students at Stillman to learn hotel management and operations skills.

The brand of the hotel has not yet been chosen.

Azim Saju of IDG Hotels was on site Thursday for the announcement and said the hotel could be operational in 18 to 24 months.

Former Tuscaloosa City Councilman Harrison Taylor, the Chairman of the Stillman Foundation's Board of Directors, also announced a fund-raising effort to build a new YMCA on Stillman's campus to replace the present aging facility.