TRU Colors to cease operations on Friday
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - TRU Colors, a Wilmington brewery which employs active gang members, will close its doors Friday, CEO and founder George Taylor said in an opinion piece published by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.
“There was no playbook, and while we made mistakes, we learned and TRU Colors became effective in its social mission,” Taylor wrote in the opinion piece. “But it has nevertheless been tough gaining local support. I’ve asked many about this, and generally the response is that for many in Wilmington, optics are more important than results. I sure hope this is untrue since this lack of care and courage would make real social change nearly impossible.
“With these challenges and more (COVID delays to product issues to biased media to lost teammates), TRU Colors has faced stiff headwinds that have slowed progress. These challenges have only increased in 2022, and with recent events, tragically we are no longer able to continue. TRU Colors’ last day of operation will be September 9th.”
WECT has spoken to TRU Colors employees who confirmed the closure.
In March, PNC Bank announced it was investing $9.25 million into TRU Colors. According to a news release, the financing includes a $6 million equity investment and a $3.25 million secured line of credit.
“We are very grateful for our corporate partners, but the fact is that Molson Coors took a small equity stake and while PNC Bank also invested, it was a refi of our building and equipment,” Taylor wrote in the opinion piece in Greater Wilmington Business Journal. “After fees and repayments, TRU Colors was left with about $8,000.”
TRU Colors, a for-profit brewing company, was founded by Taylor in 2017.
“I believe in second chances. It is not possible, however, to renounce violence without also renouncing the gang,” District Attorney Ben David said at the time. “To do otherwise is like trying to separate the water from the wet.”
Other local leaders in Wilmington and New Hanover County are disappointed that Taylor’s mission was unsuccessful.
“I’m heartbroken. I met with George and his son many times. I believed in what they were doing, and I think we need to have a lot of different opportunities and options out there,” said New Hanover County Commissioner Deb Hays.
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo supported the TRU Colors business model and believes it had an impact on city safety.
“TRU Colors was an organization that was hiring members of a gang and. you know, giving them another opportunity to make a living and showing them a different way of life,” said Saffo. “I think it had an impact. I think when you give somebody a job, and you give them an opportunity to put a roof over their head and feed their families, I think those people that take those kinds of jobs usually do not want to be involved in crime.”
Saffo hopes similar opportunities for gang members can be made available soon.
“I hope the building can be repurposed and maybe another organization or group of organizations could come in there and do something similar to what George was doing,” Saffo said.
TRU Colors recently was the subject of an article published in The New Yorker.
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