TVFCU Announces 23 Quarterfinalists In $100,000 Idea Leap Grant Competition

  • Friday, July 8, 2022

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) announced that 23 quarterfinalists will move forward in the credit union’s Fifth Annual Idea Leap Grant competition. These entrepreneurs, all hoping to earn funds for their emerging small businesses, have a chance of winning one of this year’s grants – grand prize: $50,000, first place: $20,000, and three runners-up: $10,000.


“We received nearly 150 applications from a wide variety of small businesses throughout Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia,” said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services.

“On behalf of the selection committee and the entire credit union, I’d like to congratulate our 23 quarterfinalists on this achievement. I’d also like to express our sincere appreciation to everyone who applied – there were many excellent submissions, so selecting only 23 to advance was a challenge.”


Next, quarterfinalists will submit a five-minute video detailing their business and explaining how they would use the grant funding to improve their business and benefit their community. An independent panel of volunteer judges from local nonprofits and businesses will review the videos, and TVFCU will announce ten semifinalists in August.


From there, TVFCU will publish the semifinalists’ videos and ask for the community’s help in naming one of the top five finalists through the People’s Choice Award voting campaign. Judges will select the other four finalists, and these five business owners will pitch their grant request during TVFCU’s Idea Leap Grant Pitch Night as part of CO.LAB’s startup week in October.


TVFCU’s Idea Leap Grant is an extension of the credit union’s Idea Leap Loan initiative that was created in 2016 to support early-stage small businesses. To date, TVFCU has funded more than $4.2 million in loans to over 175 entrepreneurs through this program. Additionally, TVFCU has awarded nearly $200,000 in Idea Leap Grants to dozens of local businesses since 2018. Some past winners include The Hot Chocolatier, Hutton & Smith Brewing Company, Chatt Taste Food Tours, Locals Only Gifts & Goods and Mad Priest Coffee Roasters.


2022 Idea Leap Grant Quarterfinalists

Anchor Family Counseling

Heather Carver

Cleveland, Tenn.

Adventure Pediatric Dentistry

Latasha Garrett

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Adventure Sports Innovation

Carolina Molloy

Chattanooga, Tenn.

All About the Bride

Jenifer Amato

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Be Caffeinated

Christopher Wood

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Bela Co., LLC

Bethany Wilson

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Bella Star Designs

Lisa Bell

Riceville, Tenn.

Blue Coastal Homes

Yesenia Vazquez

Cleveland, Tenn.

Heaven and Ale Southside

Joe Winland

Chattanooga, Tenn.

HIIT 10 Fitness

Kevin Young

Cleveland, Tenn.

Lisa’s Lily Pad

Lisa Bowers

Cleveland, Tenn.

Live and Let Live Barbershop

Virgil McGee

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Mountain View Low Vision Services

Cheryl Saucier

Hixson, Tenn.

Neutral Ground Chattanooga

Kenyatta Ashford

Chattanooga, Tenn.

NewTerra Compost

Normand Lavoie

Wildwood, Ga.

Premier Boiler and Combustion

Gene Davies

Ringgold, Ga.


Richard Carmack

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Sleepyhead Coffee

Christian Harris & Brandon Carruth

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Southern Soul Yoga

Jenna Wright

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Sunnyside Cup

Melody Kobernik

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Trekka Designs

Nick Rader

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Wanderlinger Brewing Co.

Chris Dial

Chattanooga, Tenn.

We Clean Chattanooga

Romonda Walker-Word

Ooltewah, Tenn.


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