Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union Announces Idea Leap Grant Semifinalists

10 Entrepreneurs Vie For 5 Small Business Grants, Totaling $58,000

Friday, September 3, 2021

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union announce the Idea Leap Grant semifinalists for 2021.

“We congratulate these ten entrepreneurs who have advanced to Idea Leap Grant semifinalists,” \ said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services. “The pandemic has certainly been challenging, but especially for small businesses. The success of America’s small businesses is essential to our economy. The Idea Leap Grant Initiative will provide funding to five local small businesses to help them further develop their businesses. Whether the entrepreneurs use it for capital improvement projects or for marketing purposes, we know that it will have a direct impact on their success. As a not-for-profit credit union, it is our mission to help our community thrive.” 

TVFCU initially received nearly 150 Idea Leap Grant applicants. Then the quarterfinalists were invited to submit a 5-minute video about why they should receive a grant. An independent panel of volunteer judges reviewed the 23 submitted videos and grant applications to select the 10 finalists. Now, it needs the community’s help to identify the People’s Choice Finalist. Visit tvfcu.com/vote or check out TVFCU’s YouTube page to watch the videos. To get access to the digital ballot, text “TVFCU” to 833-369-4063. Text the corresponding letter associated with their team number. Voting closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10.

The finalist with the most votes at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10, will be named the People’s Choice Finalist. The grant selection committee will select the other four finalists. Then five finalists will compete for one of five grants valued at (1) $21,000, (1) $15,000, (1) $10,000, (1) $7,000 and (1) $5,000. TVFCU’s Fourth Annual Idea Leap Grant Pitch Competition will take place during Startup Week Chattanooga on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

TVFCU is closely monitoring the COVID-19 surge. For the health and wellbeing of all involved, TVFCU may have to pivot from an in-person event to a virtual event. Follow TVFCU on social media for the latest competition details.

The Idea Leap Grant is an extension of the credit union’s Idea Leap Loan Initiative that was created specifically for small businesses in 2016. To date, TVFCU has funded more than $3.8 million in loans to emerging and early-stage businesses through the loan initiative. Furthermore, TVFCU has awarded more than $125,000 in Idea Leap Grants to more than 100 small businesses.

For more information about the Idea Leap Grant, please visit tvfcu.com/IdeaLeapGrant.

Fourth Annual Idea Leap Grant Finalist Facts

Champion Christian Learning Academy
Location: Chattanooga
Owner: Cynthia Evans
Established: 2017
Grant Wishes: To purchase furniture, playground equipment and learning curriculum.

Chatt Taste Food Tours, LLC
Location: Chattanooga
Owner: Briana Garza
Established: 2019
Grant Wishes: To build out the region's first electric mobile dining car, an elevated dining room on wheels.

Lil Mama's Chicago Style Hoagy
Location: Chattanooga
Owner: Tiffany Pauldon-Banks
Established: 2019
Grant Wishes: To invest in continued staff training, marketing, catering and new equipment.

Neutral Ground Chattanooga
Location: Chattanooga
Owner: Kenyatta Ashford
Established: 2020
Grant Wishes: To use as seed money toward a brick and mortar location.

Salon Posh
Location: Athens, Tn.
Owner: Allison Stiller
Established: 2018
Grant Wishes: To expand salon creating a space for continued education for license professionals, as well as adding manicure tables, pedicure chairs and treatment rooms so that we can offer more services.

Sleepyhead Coffee LLC
Location: Chattanooga
Owners: Brandon Carruth and Christian Harris
Established: 2018
Grant Wishes: To assist in expanding into a larger space where we are able to offer more pastries, a full food menu and being able to host more community-based events.

The Bitter Bottle
Location: Chattanooga
Owner: Kaleena Goldsworthy-Warnock
Established: 2017
Grant Wishes: To use these funds to build out branding and marketing, creating a more robust ecommerce site, and hiring additional employees to expand and grow.

The Cupcake Club and MORE!
Location: Cleveland, Tn.
Owner: Kyla Dean
Established: 2016
Grant Wishes: To invest into the much needed expansion of our manufacturing and retail space, manufacturing materials, and employees to help with product distribution and efficiency, and would also allow opportunity to procure new accounts and marketing that would help fulfill the demands for products.

W Salon
Location: Chattanooga
Owners: Erica and William Wright
Established: 2017
Grant Wishes: To help expand and enhance Glam Party Sessions by establishing W Salon's GLAM ON THE GO mobile studio.

Wild Violet Permaculture, LLC
Location: Signal Mountain
Owners: Nathaniel Bankhead and Bryant Hawkins
Established: 2020
Grant Wishes: To use the grant monies for three different objectives. First, we need to create comprehensive training programs and materials for both our employees and clients. Secondly, we need to invest in our future native plant nursery on Signal Mountain. Thirdly, we want to scale our compost production and distribution program. 


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