Mint Hill Madness under new ownership?

The Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce is ready to give up control of the annual Mint Hill Madness festival. And town commissioners voted Thursday, Jan. 24 , to allow them to do just that.

The 30-year-old festival has struggled to break even in recent years, including an $8,386 deficit in 2011. Chamber President Rich Ferretti said the chamber made about $2,100 from the 2012 festival. The festival cost about $70,000, he said.

Representatives from the organization – which receives grant money from the town – told commissioners Jan. 24 they recommend local marketing professional and chamber member Nancy Bradley to oversee this year’s event. Mint Hill gave the chamber $16,000 in 2012 to help cover costs for the festival.

Bradley owns RelyLocal, a grassroots marketing campaign aimed to boost the success of local businesses. She presented her vision for the festival during the board’s Jan. 24 meeting, which includes making Madness an official nonprofit.

Commissioners voted to authorize Town Manager Brian Welch to draft a one-year contract with Bradley and work to establish the festival as a nonprofit.

“It has the potential to really grow and it’s something that has to be managed correctly,” organizer Dalton Taylor said. “The chamber, we will support them. Turning (Madness) into a 501 (c) 3 (nonprofit) makes all the sense in the world.”

Bradley said the festival could include a larger volunteer component and ways local nonprofits can volunteer at the event and earn money, similar to the Matthews Alive! Festival. Bradley, a south Charlotte resident, boasts 20 years of marketing experience, including coordinating marketing efforts for IKEA when they opened their Charlotte store in 2010. If commissioners approve, Bradley wants to be hired as the festival’s part-time executive director. Her salary would be determined by the yet-to-be created Mint Hill Madness Board of Directors.

Welch offered a suggested list of board members on Jan. 24, including himself as a board member. Commissioners are expected to vote on the board members during their Feb. 14 meeting. Welch also recommended for the board: Tony Long, Dalton Taylor, Donna Rogers and Julian Venable.

“Our vision is to repurpose the event and put money back into community and support nonprofits and community organizations,” she told Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly previously. “It’s not really anything to do with RelyLocal. We’re coming together with the town and using our expertise.”

As a business association, the chamber hasn’t been able to get funding from the area’s large businesses, Bradley said, because many can only give to certified nonprofits. So the first step, if commissioners agree, is to make the festival an official nonprofit, she said. If commissioners approve, Bradley said she would ask to be hired as the festival’s executive director.

“There are pools of money out there that the chamber was not able to get access to. (Nonprofit status) is key because you can get the major corporations because they need to spend that money,” she said previously. “If commissioners approve, we’ll work with the chamber to make that happen. That way, the chamber can work with the local businesses and support the local businesses.”

Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers said he feels comfortable with Bradley taking the reigns and appointing a board soon.

“We had to do something in an expeditious manner because Madness is going to be here before you know it,” he said. “I think we’re at the point we’re really going to have to do something different if we’re going to have (Madness) this year.

Right now we need to get moving to make sure Madness takes place.”

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