George Taylor is going to Austin.
Taylor, chairman of TRU Colors Brewing Co., will speak at next year’s South by Southwest Conference about the beer brewing operation and its focus on employing active gang members.
The Austin-based conference that now draws more than 400,000 attendees announced about 600 sessions
for the upcoming March event, including one about TRU Colors.
Taylor’s talk, titled “Gangs, Entreprenuers & Beer: Stopping the Violence,” is part of South by Southwest’s Social & Global Impact track, which also includes sessions ranging from initiatives addressing homelessness to policy solutions for the opioid epidemic. That same track includes a talk by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.
South by Southwest, or SXSW, has grown from its start in 1987 into a major, 10-day event showcasing music, film and innovation.
“The bottom line for all this programming is creative thinking and creative doing – which is the foundation of all aspects of SXSW,” Hugh Forrest, chief programming officer for South by Southwest, said in the announcement about the sessions for next year's event, which is March 8-17.
Forrest visited Wilmington in 2014
to give a speech at the former Coastal Connect Entrepreneur and Capital Conference, an event that morphed into the Cucalorus film festival’s Connect conference to – like SXSW – fold in business and innovation speakers.
Earlier this summer TRU Colors leased space in Dutch Square Industrial Park
to open a commercial brewery. The hope is that through employment opportunities, the participating and still active gang members will use their influence in their neighborhoods to curb gang-related violence.
“Sounds a bit crazy, but American gangs (think Bloods, Crips, GD, etc.) more closely resemble college fraternities than organized crime. Crazier sounding still, these gangs have written mission statements, vision statements and key values that all of us would be proud to align with,” company officials said in their submission
to be considered for inclusion in South by Southwest.
Taylor said in the company's submission video that TRU Colors is different than the other companies he has worked with.
“It’s the first startup I’ve been part of where at its core mission is to combat big social issues like gang violence and race,” he said.
The date and time for Taylor's talk has not yet been scheduled, but the session's information is posted here
He'll have practice beforehand. Taylor and company representatives head to Phoenix later this month to present about TRU Colors at the Net Impact Conference.