Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union Announces Idea Leap Grant Finalists

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union announces the Idea Leap Grant finalists for 2020 who will participate in TVFCU’s Virtual Pitch Night on Tuesday, Oct. 20. With the virtual format, TVFCU added a People’s Choice Finalist.

Twelve small businesses were part of the text-voting campaign and cumulatively received more than 2,000 votes during the five-day voting period. Cashew, a plant-based vegan café in Chattanooga’s NorthShore, received the most votes and was named the People’s Choice Finalist.

An independent panel of community judges selected the other two finalists. The volunteer judges include Emily Gilliam, loan processor at BrightBridge, Inc., Sarah Mattson, small business specialist at Tennessee Small Business Development Center, Darian Scott, director of talent and economic inclusion at Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, and Melanie Krautstrunk, owner of Hutton & Smith Brewing Company, 2019 Idea Leap Grant winner and 2020 celebrity judge. Dionne Jenkins, vice president of diversity and inclusion at TVFCU, chairs TVFCU’s Idea Leap Grant judging panel.

The judges picked Chatta-Cakes Bakery, a family-oriented, hand-crafted bakery in Hixson, and Locals Only Gifts & Goods, a Chattanooga shop specializing in small-batch and artisan crafted goods that are proudly made in the State of Tennessee, as 2020 Idea Leap Grant finalists.

“The Idea Leap Grant Initiative started as a way to reinvest Idea Leap Loan proceeds back into the community in 2018,” said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services at TVFCU. “It is a grant — an award from the credit union to three area small businesses to help fulfill their next dream whether that is providing a new service or purchasing much-needed equipment.”

The community is invited to hear the three finalists compete during TVFCU’s Virtual Pitch Night on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 6:30 p.m. by watching on TVFCU’s YouTube channel or by streaming the competition through TVFCU’s Facebook page. Please follow TVFCU on social media for the latest details.

TVFCU’s Virtual Idea Leap Grant is part of Virtual Startup Week Chattanooga, a weeklong celebration of Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial community. 

During the virtual competition, each finalist will have up to five minutes to pitch their business via a video detailing why they are deserving of the grant. A brief socially-distant Q&A session with judges will follow each presentation. Once all the presentations are complete, the judges will deliberate and evaluate the finalists according to a set of assessment criteria. The winners will then receive one of three grants valued at $10,000, $7,000 and $3,000. 

Visit tvfcu.com for more details and colab.co/startupweekcha/ for a full schedule of Virtual Startup Week activities. 

Third Annual Idea Leap Grant Finalist Facts

Cashew
Location: Chattanooga
Owners: Bailey Cole and Kristiana Mallo
Established: September 2013
Hopes to Win Grant to: Upgrade equipment and update kitchen HVAC and ventilation system.

Chatta-Cakes Bakery
Location: Hixson
Owners: Shannon and Mike Anderson
Established: 2013
Hopes to Win Grant to: Purchase new oven, refrigeration equipment, dough sheeter and another edible image printer.

Locals Only Gifts & Goods
Location: Chattanooga
Owners: Eric and Danielle Landrum
Established: 2015
Hopes to Win Grant to: Hire a dedicated marketing specialist to increase gift box sales, in-store sales and website sales.



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