TVFCU Announces Fourth Annual Idea Leap Grant Quarterfinalists                                                                                                     Skip to content
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TVFCU Announces Fourth Annual Idea Leap Grant Quarterfinalists

July 27, 2021

Twenty-three Entrepreneurs Vie for Five Small Business Grants, Totaling $58,000


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (July 27, 2021) — Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union is proud to announce the top 23 Idea Leap Grant quarterfinalists for 2021.

“We congratulate these 23 small businesses for being Idea Leap Grant quarterfinalists,” said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services. “We received nearly 150 applications from small businesses throughout Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. The selection committee whittled the list down to these quarterfinalists after reviewing the applications. There were many great applicants, so this was a challenging task. We appreciate everyone who took time to complete an application.”

TVFCU invited the quarterfinalists to submit a five-minute video detailing why their business should receive one of the five Idea Leap Grants. An independent panel of volunteer judges is now reviewing the videos. TVFCU will announce the top ten semifinalists in late August.

From there, TVFCU will publish the ten semifinalist videos and ask for the community’s help to name one of the top five finalists through the People’s Choice Award text voting campaign. The judges will select their top four finalists. The five finalists will then pitch their grant request during TVFCU’s Idea Leap Grant Pitch Night as part of Startup Week Chattanooga on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.  

TVFCU’s 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


2021 Idea Leap Grant Quarterfinalists

Champion Christian Learning Academy

Cynthia Evans

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Scenic City Wellness

Michalle Morris

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Chatt Taste Food Tours, LLC

Briana Garza

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Sleepyhead Coffee, LLC

Brandon Carruth and Christian Harris

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Chef Express

Terence Locke

Chattanooga, Tenn.

SunKissed Photo Bus

Shane and Kaley Tretheway

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Devil Dawg Farms

Nicholas Lemley

Ringgold, Ga.

Sunnyside Cup

Melody Kobernik

Chattanooga, Tenn.

 Lil Mama’s Chicago Style Hoagy

Tiffany Pauldon-Banks

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Sweet E’s Children’s Boutique

Blaine and Kacie Trexler

Ooltewah, Tenn.

Millennial Nail Bar

KaDeadra McNealy

Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Bitter Bottle

Kaleena Goldsworthy

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Neutral Ground Chattanooga

Kenyatta Ashford

Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Cupcake Club Inc.

Kyla Dean

Cleveland, Tenn.

Our House Studios

Christy Chapman

Ringgold, Ga.

The Woodshop Listening Room

Dylan Hackett, Tyler Rozzell and Daniel Russell

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Pandemonium Family Fun Center, LLC

Jann and Randy Lusk

Cleveland, Tenn.

W Salon

Erica Wright

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Paramount Podiatry, PLLC

Joy Russell, DPM

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Wild Violet Permaculture

Bryant Hawkins

Signal Mountain, Tenn.

Peak Performance

Denise Rice

Chattanooga, Tenn.


Stephanie Sawyer

Signal Mountain, Tenn.

 Salon Posh

Allison Stiller

Athens, Tenn.



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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 161,500 members who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school throughout the 13-county service community. With more than $2.1 billion in assets and 21 branches throughout the area, TVFCU is the largest credit union in the region. In 2021, TVFCU was named by Forbes as Best-In-State Credit Union and received the highest score of all credit union in the nation. For more information about TVFCU, please visit

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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