WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A company that hires gang members wants the community’s support to persuade city leaders to sell the former WAVE Transit facility to the business.
TRU Colors Brewing Company wants to build its brewery at Castle and 11th Streets in Wilmington.
The facility has been empty for years.
TRU Colors originally had plans to begin its operations at a site off Market and Gordon.
Founder George Taylor said the company has a renewed focus and wants to make sure it’s in a neighborhood where it can make a difference.
“If you would have talked to me this time last year, I was hyper focused on beer and I thought it was the most important thing and I was trying to keep our focus on for profit,” he said. “We learned that their social mission was critical so that was a big reason we want to be downtown. The other one is we want to be in the communities we’re working with and we care about and Dutch Square is not that community, downtown is.”
WECT has been been following the story of this unique company and its mission to reduce violence and give jobs and opportunities to gang members.
The idea starting with the gang-related killing of a teenager, who was gunned down at the same intersection where the former WAVE Transit facility was located.
Juan Bethea, who is in brewery operations at TRU Colors, said the location is meaningful for the team.
“That’s where our story first started with the killing of 15-year-old Shane Simpson about three years ago,” he said. “That’s a community that is lacking opportunity and support and we would like to provide that by bringing a brewery and a place of employment.”
Johnnathun Smith, who is a manager at the company, grew up in Wilmington’s southside. He hopes launching the company there will inspire others.
“The people who aren’t at TRU Colors, they get to see guys like myself doing something positive, making a change,” he said.
City council will consider putting the location up for bid at its meeting tomorrow night.
Taylor explained the team wants to show city council members it has support in the community. To sign the petition, click here.