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Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union Invites Small Businesses to Win $21K in '21

April 30, 2021

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union is celebrating National Small Business Week by opening the Fourth Annual Idea Leap Grant where a small business can vie to win $21K in ’21!

Businesses in TVFCU’s 13-county service area that have been in operation for at least one year and have fewer than 20 employees are eligible to apply for their chance at winning one of five grants valued at $21,000, $15,000, $10,000, $7,000 and $5,000. Full rules and the application are available at tvfcu.com/IdeaLeapGrant.

“The grant is an extension of our Idea Leap Loan Initiative that was created specifically for small businesses in 2016 and is our way of re-investing those loan proceeds back into the community,” said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services at TVFCU. “Through the Idea Leap Initiative, we have funded more than $3.8 million in loans to emerging and early-stage businesses. We have awarded more than $125,000 in Idea Leap Grants to more than 100 small businesses. And as a thank you to our independent panel of judges, we have awarded more than $10,000 in Idea Leap scholarships to two area technical assistance providers to help people learn more about how to achieve their small business dreams.”

The Idea Leap Grant application is open from Monday, May 3, until 5 p.m. ET on Friday, June 4. An independent panel of judges from across the community will review the applications. This year’s judging panel is led by Dionne Jenkins, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union.


Judges include:

  • Jennie DeCook, director, Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State Community College
  • Emily Gilliam, credit analyst, Brightbridge Capital
  • Charles Fisher, partner/director, Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C.
  • Diane Parks, retired director of Leadership Chattanooga, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Danielle Landrum, co-owner of Locals Only Gifts and Goods, 2020 Idea Leap Grant Winner & 2021 Celebrity Judge

The panel will announce the 21 quarterfinalists in early July, which will be whittled down to ten semifinalists in late August. We’ll need the community’s help to name one of the top five finalists through the People’s Choice Award text voting campaign. The five finalists will then pitch their grant request during Startup Week Chattanooga in late October.

For those interested in learning more about the Idea Leap Grant application process, TVFCU will host a special Virtual Idea Leap Grant Planning Workshop on Thursday, May 6, at 1 p.m. ET. Don’t worry if you can’t join, a recording will be available. Follow TVFCU on social media for details.

Visit tvfcu.com/IdeaLeapGrant for business eligibility, rules, timeline, past event recaps and the application. Submit your application from now until 5 p.m. ET on Friday, June 4.


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About Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU), a not-for-profit financial cooperative, was established in 1936 when 57 Chattanooga TVA employees pooled $500 to create the member-owned credit union. Today, TVFCU serves more than 160,000 members who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school throughout the 13-county service community. With more than $2 billion in assets and 19 branches throughout the area, TVFCU is the largest credit union in the region. For more information about TVFCU, please visit tvfcu.com.

About TVFCU’s Idea Leap Grant

The Idea Leap Grant Initiative is an extension of TVFCU’s Idea Leap Loan Initiative that was created in October 2016. The Idea Leap Loan fills a void in the community for loans up to $50,000 to emerging businesses. Through the Idea Leap Grant Initiative, TVFCU has awarded more than $125,000 in grants to area small businesses.





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