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Congratulations to the 2022 Idea Leap Grant Recipients!

  • Grand Prize Winner ($50,000) - Be Caffeinated

  • 1st Place Winner ($20,000) - Sleepyhead Coffee

  • Runners Up ($10,000 each) - Mountain View Low Vision Services, Neutral Ground Chattanooga, NewTerra Compost

Want to relive the whole Pitch Competition? Check out our Live Stream from the evening. If you missed our luncheon, you can see a recorded version on our YouTube.

5th Annual Idea leap Grant
Offering $100,000 in Grants for 2022

Grand Prize: $50,000
First Place: $20,000  |  3 Runners-Up: $10,000



Idea Leap Grant Semifinalists

This year’s semifinalists, representing industries such as food service, janitorial, medical, clothing and more, are:

Here's the press release, highlighting some facts about these 10 semifinalist businesses

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 Construction

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.

TEREN Designs

Nick Rader

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Wanderlinger Brewing Co.

Chris Dial

Chattanooga, Tenn.

We Clean Chattanooga

Romonda Walker-Word

Ooltewah, Tenn.




2022 Idea Leap Grant Timeline

2022 Idea Leap Grant Timeline

Application Period

May 2nd 2022 through June 3rd 2022

Quarterfinalist Selection

June 6th 2022 through July 8th 2022

Video Submission

July 9th 2022 through July 15th 2022 (Quarterfinalist only)

Semifinalist Selection Period

July 18th 2022 through August 26th 2022

People's Choice Award Finalist Public Voting

September 5th 2022 through September 9th 2022

People's Choice Finalist Announcement

September 9th 2022

Top 5 Finalist Announcement

September 12th 2022



The TVFCU 2022 Grant Contest begins on May 2, 2022 and ends with the announcement of winners on or about October 18, 2022.

The 2022 Contest eligible participants are all Small Businesses in operation in the TVFCU 13 County Service area and as further defined below. Eligible participants must continue to meet the following criteria: The Contest is only open to legal residents/business enterprises of the TVFCU’s13-county community who at the time of entry are independent owners/operators of a for-profit small business that is domiciled in TVFCU’s13-county community and which has been in continuous operation selling a product or service for not less than twelve (12) months at the time of application. In order to be considered an eligible "small business" for purposes of this Contest, the business must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Entrant/owner must be at least eighteen (18) years of age at the time of submission;
    b. The business must be currently active, lawful, and have all necessary and required licenses and registrations;
    c. Entrant/owner must be an authorized agent of the registered business;
    d. The business must be in good standing with the Tennessee/Georgia Secretary of State or the County Clerk’s office in their home county, as of the date of Submission and must remain so through the end of the Contest;
    e. The business must have a minimum of 2 (including the owner) and a maximum of 25 employees on its payroll (other employee may be seasonal, part time, 1099, W-2 or a co-owner. Employee for definition of maximum employee is defined as full time equivalent);
    f. Must meet TVFCU Business Services membership criteria;
    g. Not in any way be affiliated with a direct seller business;
    h. Not under bankruptcy protection or have judicial liens or attachments;
    i. Annual revenue does not exceed two million five hundred thousand dollars ($2.5 million);
    j. Entrant/owner must not be on the OFAC list, individuals with prior felony convictions may be eligible. The TVFCU Grant Advisory committee or its’ designee will determine the eligibility of any applicant with a felony conviction

Prior Winners: The 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021Idea Leap Grant winners (top 5 prize recipients for 2018, 2019, 2021 and top 3 for 2020) are excluded from participating.

TVFCU shall determine, in its sole discretion, whether an entry meets the eligibility criteria to participate in the Contest. TVFCU’s decisions regarding eligibility and all other aspects of the Contest are final and binding.

TVFCU, affiliated companies, and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, agents and persons engaged in the development, production or distribution of materials for this Contest (collectively, the "Contest Parties") and the immediate family members (i.e., parent, child, sibling, and spouse) of each and/or persons living in the same household of such individuals (whether related or not) are not eligible to participate in the Contest. This contest is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and is void in all geographic locations where prohibited by law.

There will be five (5) Winners: one (1) Grand Prize will receive a U.S. $50,000.00 Grant; one (1) First Prize will receive a U.S. $20,000.00 Grant ; three (3) runner up will receive a U.S. $10,000.00 Grant; Winners will be required to meet with a Technical Assistance provider at least once to qualify. Technical Assistance providers are; BrightBridge, The Company Lab, Launch Chattanooga, Tennessee Small Business Development Center (Chattanooga or Cleveland), SCORE, The Urban League and UTC’s Veteran Entrepreneurship Program.

To enter the Contest, Entrants ("Entrants") are required to complete and submit a written application (available on the TVFCU Website) no later than 5pm June 3, 2022. Details for application submission are available via an email request to [email protected] or TVFCU Website. All Finalist will be required to participate in an in person Pitch Night (health climate permitting) or a virtual Pitch Night (health climate precludes in person) session with the TVFCU Grants Advisory Committee on or about October 18, 2022. An existing TVFCU account is not required to enter the contest, however all Grants will be paid via a Direct deposit into a TVFCU Business Account. Entrant will be required to include the following information:

xi. Name of Business
xii. Name of Business Owner / Authorized Agent
xiii. Phone Number
xiv. Position/Title at Business
xv. Email Address
xvi. Street Address
xvii. City
xviii. State
xix. Zip
xx. All information for verification of membership eligibility and Grant eligibility
xxi. Company financial statements for year end 2021 and thru June 30, 2022(semifinalist only) and/or other financial information deemed necessary on a case by case basis. Additionally a request for submission to a criminal background check (acceptable to TVFCU)
xxii. Business website or primary website where goods or services are offered to the public (i.e. Etsy store, Facebook page)
xxiii. Social media sites for the business
xxiv. Is the business a minority-owned business, defined as Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Native American, or US Military Veteran, Female or Disabled person. Ownership by minority or other status defined herein, are individuals in which ownership of the business is at least 51%.
Entrants will be further required to provide responses to a set of narrative-based questions in the application. The response to these questions will be in length as designated.

All entries are subject to approval by TVFCU, in TVFCU’s sole discretion. Entrants will receive a confirmation email of their submission upon full completion of the entry requirements. Entries are subject to disqualification at any time including after initial approval.
Except where prohibited, entry in the Contest constitutes each Entrant’s consent to the publication of her/his/its name, organizational information and completed Entry, including the Digital Image, (to the extent applicable) in any media for any commercial or promotional purpose (including, without limitation, the Internet) by TVFCU, without compensation.

By entering the Contest and providing an email address, each Entrant grants TVFCU express permission to send Entrant emails related to the Contest, including, but not limited to notification of Finalists, Winners and a follow-up email in order to gather feedback regarding the Contest to be used in the planning and design of future Contests. Limit: one (1) entry per business.

Digital images (if submitted) and company logo must be in one of the following formats: .jpg, .png or .gif. Each digital image (including company logo) may not exceed 7MB.
If any digital image contains any material or elements that are not owned by the Entrant and/or are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, the Entrant is responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these Official Rules. If any person appearing in any photograph is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.
If a professional image is submitted, Entrant is responsible for securing usage rights from the photographer to reproduce, distribute, display, and create derivative works of the image by TVFCU in connection with the Contest and promotion of the Contest, in any media now or hereafter known.
Upon TVFCU's request, each Entrant must be prepared to provide (within seven (7) calendar days of receipt of TVFCU's request) such signed release from all third parties who (a) appear in the photograph or (b) whose owned content appear in the photograph submitted, authorizing use by TVFCU and its licensees ("Authorized Parties") in accordance with these Official Rules. Failure to provide such releases upon request may result in disqualification at any time during the Contest.

During the finalist selection period, the TVFCU IDEA LEAP Grant Advisory Committee or its designee will review all entries to identify all qualifying entries. Upon identifying all qualifying entries, the TVFCU IDEA LEAP Grant Advisory Committee will reduce the total qualifying entry pool to twenty (20) quarterfinalist, these twenty (20) quarterfinalist will submit a no more than 5 minute video via Dropbox for consideration to moving into the Semifinalist round. Any video submission that exceeds 5 minutes is subject to a point(s) reduction in the scoring model. Entrants that do not qualify or are eliminated at this stage will be notified via email or other method as directed by the TVFCU IDEA LEAP Grant Advisory Committee or its designee.

Ten (10) semifinalists will be selected from the twenty (20) Quarterfinalists. The semifinalists will be notified by email or other method by the TVFCU Grant Advisory Committee of their selection into the Semifinalist round. The Ten (10) semifinalists will then participate in a site visit of their business either in person or virtually as deemed appropriate by the TVFCU Grant Advisory Committee. Additionally, the Ten (10) Semifinalists will provide the Grant Advisory Committee or designee with their most recent year-end financial information and or other information regarding the business as deemed necessary.

The final round will include a total of Five (5) Finalists, four (4) selected by the TVFCU Grant Advisory Committee and One (1) Finalist selected by an open public vote via TVFCU social media, this finalist will also be scored by the TVFCU Idea Leap Grant Advisory Committee.


Application period is: May 2nd 2022 through June 3rd 2022

Quarterfinalist Selection period is: June 6th 2022 through July 8th 2022

Video Submission Period: July 9th 2022 through July 15th 2022 (Quarterfinalist only)

Semifinalist Selection period is: July 18th 2022 through August 26th 2022

People’s Choice Award Finalist Public Voting: September 5th 2022 through September 9th 2022

Finalist Announcement: September 12th 2022

During the Application and Judging Period, The TVFCU Grant Advisory Committee or designee will review applications, video submissions and business information required to score the applicants to determine the quarterfinalist, semifinalist and finalist.

The Finalist will be notified via email or other communication as directed by the TVFCU IDEA LEAP Grant Advisory Committee.
The five (5) finalists will be required to participant in an in person (socially distanced if required) or virtual (if health conditions require) Business Pitch Competition with the TVFCU Grant Advisory Committee on or about October 18, 2022.

*** The Grant Advisory Committee will consist of One (1) senior staff member from TVFCU, Two (2) (minimum) representatives from the Technical Assistance providers located in TVFCU’s 13-county community and at-large representatives (number to be determined by the TVFCU Grant Advisory Committee) that live or work in TVFCU’s 13-county community. Non TVFCU employees on the Grant Advisory Committee are acting as agents of TVFCU, all rights and limitations of agents reflected herein are applicable to the Non TVFCU employee members of the Grant Advisory Committee.

Grants are non-transferable. By accepting a Grant, each Winner acknowledges compliance with these Official Rules. All federal, state, local or other tax liabilities arising from this Contest are the sole responsibility of each Winner, respectively. Limit of one Grant per Entrant. All other expenses relating to acceptance of a Grant, including but not limited to taxes and any other expenses not specified herein are the sole responsibility of each Winner. Grant conditions may be added or modified by TVFCU, in its sole discretion. Acceptance of a Grant constitutes permission for TVFCU and its designees to use each Winner’s name, photographs, entry material, other likenesses and biographical information for advertising, promotional or trade purposes, including but not limited to online announcements, in commerce and in all media worldwide without limitation or additional compensation, except where prohibited by law.
A Winner may waive its right to receive the Grant. The Grant is non-assignable and non-transferable. No substitutions may be made by the Winner. TVFCU will not withhold taxes from any award. Prior to receiving the Grant, Winners must execute a W-9 tax form verifying their tax identification number. Payment of federal, state and local taxes and fees due, if any, are the sole responsibility of the Winner. Winners may be required, as instructed by TVFCU, to complete and sign (i) an affidavit of eligibility/liability certifying that such Winner has complied with the Official Rules of the Contest, and (ii) a liability and publicity release (except where prohibited by law). Failure to sign and return any of these documents or to comply with any term or condition of these Official Rules may result in a Winner’s disqualification, the forfeiture of its interest in the Grant, and, at TVFCU’s discretion, the presentation of the Grant to a substitute recipient. A Grant not won and/or claimed by a Winner and not awarded to a substitute recipient by TVFCU in accordance with these Official Rules will remain the property of TVFCU.

TVFCU reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any Entrant at any time that it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the Contest; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules; or to be acting in an inappropriate or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person.
Submitted Entries must be consistent with TVFCU mission, strategy and values and TVFCU reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject and/or disqualify any entries at any time that TVFCU deems to be hateful, slanderous, libelous, violent, obscene, defamatory, discriminatory (based on age, race, gender, religion, natural origin, physical disability, sexual orientation or political affiliation), profane, offensive, lewd, sexually explicit, pornographic, false, misleading, deceptive, self-mutilating (e.g. relating to murder, the sales of weapons, cruelty, abuse, etc.), illegal (computer hacking, underage drinking, etc.), threatening, harassing, or otherwise inconsistent with its standards, audience expectations, or reputational interests or that contain images, words or symbols widely considered offensive to individuals of a certain race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic group, or that TVFCU believes may violate any applicable law or regulation or the rights of any third party or may subject the contest, TVFCU, or TVFCU's advertisers, clients, or members to controversy, negative publicity, scorn, or ridicule. For purposes of this paragraph, Submitted Entries include content on the Entrant’s website and social media sites.
Should TVFCU determine, in its sole discretion, that any announced winner has violated any of the prohibitions contained in these Official Rules or should be disqualified for any other reason, TVFCU shall have no obligation to award a Grant to such Entrant.
As a condition of entry, TVFCU reserves the right to conduct a background check on any potential finalist and/or winner and reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any Entrant based on such background check if in its sole discretion, TVFCU determines that awarding the prize to such Entrant might reflect negatively on TVFCU’s image and/or reputation.

By participating in the Contest, each Entrant releases and holds TVFCU, its affiliate companies and each of their directors, officers, employees, representatives, and agents harmless from and against any claims, costs, injuries, losses or damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the Contest or with the acceptance, possession, use of or defect in any Grant (including, without limitation, claims, costs, injuries, losses or damages related to personal injuries, death, damage to, loss or destruction of property, rights of publicity or privacy, defamation or portrayal in a false light). TVFCU is not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by technical or human error or otherwise which may occur in the processing of entries in this Contest or in the running of this Contest. TVFCU will not be responsible for typographical, printing or other errors in these Official Rules or in other materials relating to the Contest.
If for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including but not limited to by reason of fraud, computer virus, worms, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, technical limitations or failures, human error, mistake or any other cause that in the sole opinion of TVFCU could compromise, undermine, corrupt or otherwise affect the security, integrity, fairness, administration, or proper conduct of this Contest, TVFCU reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest at any time and without notice.
Notwithstanding anything set forth above, to the extent that the preceding release is determined by a tribunal of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, unenforceable or void for any reason, each Entrant agrees that, to the fullest extent permitted by law (i) any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of or in connection with the Contest, or any awards awarded shall be resolved individually without resort to any form of class action; (ii) any claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred by such Entrant, but in no event attorney's fees and no greater than $100; and (iii) under no circumstances will any Entrant be permitted to obtain any award for, and Entrant hereby waives all rights to claim, incidental, punitive or consequential damages.

The construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, and all issues and questions relating thereto, along with the rights and obligations of all Entrants and of TVFCU, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Tennessee, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions. In the event that any provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable, such determination shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision, and these Official Rules shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or unenforceable provision was not contained therein.
Any specific waiver of any obligation hereunder by TVFCU does not constitute a general waiver of that obligation nor of any other obligation of Entrant. Any dispute concerning this Contest shall be submitted to binding arbitration in Hamilton County, Tennessee within one (1) year from the date that the cause of action arose (or, if multiple cause of actions are involved, from the date that the first cause of action arose), with such arbitration conducted pursuant to the then prevailing rules of the American Arbitration Association. To the fullest extent permitted by law, no arbitration brought pursuant to these Official Rules shall be joined to any other arbitration initiated pursuant to these Official Rules.

By participating in the submission process for this Contest, the Entrant grants to TVFCU and affiliated companies an exclusive, assignable, royalty-free and irrevocable right and license to edit or otherwise use all materials submitted by Entrant in connection with the Contest, in whole or in part, for any purpose and in any manner or media (including, without limitation, the Internet) now known or hereafter devised, throughout the world in perpetuity, and to license others to do so, without notice and without compensation, royalty, accounting, liability or obligation of any kind to any Entrant. Each Entrant further agrees that it will use its best efforts to have its employees, consultants, volunteers, officers and directors sign any additional licenses or releases that TVFCU may require.

TVFCU reserves the right to edit the submission materials and other materials prior to posting them to the website in its sole discretion.

The names of the Winners may be obtained following the end of the Contest on or before November 1, 2022, by visiting

Sponsor: Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union; P.O. Box 23967, Chattanooga, TN 37422. Attention: Business and Commercial Services/IDEA LEAP Grant.

Essay Question Prep Sheet

Once you begin the Idea Leap grant application, it must be completed in one session.

The application does not save the information for you to return and finish at a later date. Therefore, we are providing the essay questions below so that you can begin thinking about your answers before applying. You can then copy and paste your answers from the prep sheet onto your application session.

We appreciate your interest, and good luck!

1) Tell us about your business? i.e., What do you make, sell, or what service do you provide?

2) What inspired your leap into entrepreneurship, and how does your business feed your passion?

3) How do you/your business make our community better, and how is your business different?

4) What would you do with the Idea Leap Grant funds?

5) Is there anything else you want to share?

6) Please attach Your Business License / EIN / Exemption Forms


Relive the excitement from 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.

We are honored to introduce you to our independent panel of judges who will select this year’s Idea Leap Grant recipients! 


Jennie DeCook- Director, TSBDC at Cleveland State Comm. College

In your role, how do you help small businesses succeed?

Our organization provides one-on-one business advising and business education. We assist small businesses with startup, loan package development, business plan development, marketing and branding, expansion and diversification planning, success planning, process improvement, resource development, and more.

How long have you helped small businesses?

I have been with the TSBDC for over ten years.

What is one nugget of information that you would like to share with small business owners?

Our most successful clients have tapped into their own talents and skill sets while also understanding the need for collaboration and resource development within their community.

What is your favorite thing about Chattanooga?

One of the best things about the Chattanooga region is that there is truly something for everyone, from mountains, rivers, festivals, music and theater venues, outdoor markets, restaurants, and attractions all within an hour’s drive. Our small business community reflects that diversity as well.

What is your tip for entrepreneurs interested in applying to the Idea Leap Grant?

Make sure you are telling your story in a compelling way.

Lisa Dotson- Executive Director, Main Street Athens

In your role, how do you help small businesses succeed?

Main Street Athens is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works to create a sustainable town center that contributes to the communities’ health while preserving the unique history and culture of our downtown. The overall goal is to create a vibrant place for people to work, live, shop, dine and enjoy entertainment. As the Executive Director, I serve as a liaison between the downtown business owners and the city of Athens & McMinn County Governments, grant funders, small business development centers, philanthropic organizations, and other economic development entities by researching funding opportunities that will enhance business development.  I also serve as a voice for the business owners by promoting their business through word of mouth, social media, ad placements via newsprint, radio, television, or video.

How long have you helped small businesses?

I have served as the Main Street Executive Director for six years.

What is one nugget of information that you would like to share with small business owners?

Take the time to utilize the resources (financial & educational) that become available to you. It might require your attention on the front end, but it will be beneficial for your business in the future.

What is your favorite thing about Chattanooga?

I live and work in Athens TN but Main Street Athens is affiliated with several Chattanooga organizations that have been instrumental in the growth and development of making Athens a thriving community (THRIVE Regional Partnership, Southeast TN Development District, TN Arts Commission, Lyndhurst Foundation). Apart from networking, my favorite part is the plethora of dining and shopping options!

What is your tip for entrepreneurs interested in applying to the Idea Leap Grant?

Don’t be afraid to “tell your story” And take this as an opportunity to expand your creativity and your business, not only for right now, but for the future!

Emily Gilliam- Credit Analyst, Brightbridge Capital

In your role, how do you help small businesses succeed?

I assist small businesses with securing financing to start and/or grow their small business. Often this includes helping the borrower understand their financials in more detail than just black and white numbers on page.

How long have you helped small businesses?

6 years

What is one nugget of information that you would like to share with small business owners?

Don’t overlook the financials! Make time on a regular basis to review the numbers and make sure you are on track, and if you aren’t find out why and fix it.

What is your favorite thing about Chattanooga?

The friendly people everywhere you go, and all the amazing small shops and restaurants.

What is your tip for entrepreneurs interested in applying to the Idea Leap Grant?

Read the instructions, and if in doubt, give us more than detail versus less!

Chuck Fisher- Partner/Director, Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C.

In your role, how do you help small businesses succeed?

I represent numerous small businesses and startups.  I help those businesses with, among other things, entity formation, contract drafting and negotiation, raising debt and equity capital and other general business issues.

How long have you helped small businesses?  

My entire 24-year legal career.

What is one nugget of information that you would like to share with small business owners?  

Be sure to protect yourself when entering into any type of business deal.

What is your favorite thing about Chattanooga? 

Its welcoming nature. I wasn’t raised in Chattanooga and moved here after law school. I found it easier to make friends and do business in Chattanooga compared to other cities. I now think of Chattanooga as my hometown.

What is your tip for entrepreneurs interested in applying to the Idea Leap Grant? 

Take the time to develop a detailed business plan and deliver it in an organized manner.

Sarah Mattson- Small Business Specialist, TSBDC at Chattanooga State Comm. College

In your role, how do you help small businesses succeed?

We provide no-cost business counseling, seminars, resources, and technical assistance for business owners. My areas of expertise include strategic business planning, financial analysis and forecasting, bookkeeping, and website assistance. I am passionate about using my business ownership experience and education to empower other entrepreneurs to achieve a higher quality of life.

How long have you helped small businesses?

I have been a co-owner in a small business for over ten years and have worked at the TSBDC for five years.

What is one nugget of information that you would like to share with small business owners?

Definitely get involved in the business community and take advantage of business assistance resources available to you.

What is your favorite thing about Chattanooga?
EVERYTHING! The amazing food and beverage options and accessibility to a laid-back, but urban, lifestyle.

What is your tip for entrepreneurs interested in applying to the Idea Leap Grant?
 Identify a specific need (piece of equipment, professional website, facility, etc.) that the grant will fund and how that will help your business grow. How will the growth of your business impact the community?  

Vickye Bone- Vice President, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga

In your role, how do you help small businesses succeed?
The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga provides business management training for entrepreneurs. We support entrepreneurs in virtually every phase of their business, from start-up to long-established. Business owners can look to the Urban League for resources, referrals and preparation to apply for funding options through training classes, seminars/workshops and coaching.

How long have you helped small businesses?
We have helped small businesses since 1982 through the Urban League Entrepreneur Center.

What is one nugget of information that you would like to share with small business owners?
Take the time to figure out your company’s purpose and set realistic goals that will help you fulfill that purpose.

What is your favorite thing about Chattanooga?
Chattanooga has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. It is breathtaking to come around Missionary Ridge heading downtown.

What is your tip for entrepreneurs interested in applying to the Idea Leap Grant?
Dream big. Shake the “no’s” out of your head. Appreciate the process, believing that even applying for the grant will help you to become a more focused, and ultimately successful, entrepreneur.

Briana Garza- Co-Owner, Chatt Taste Food Tours and 2022 Celebrity Judge

What is your favorite thing about Chattanooga?


What is your tip for Idea Leap Grant participants?


Dionne Jenkins- Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion, TVFCU

In your role, how do you help small businesses succeed?

In this role, I offer diversity training to small business owners and I help connect them to the right individuals at the credit union who are able to meet their needs.

How long have you helped small businesses?

I have had the pleasure of working with small businesses for four years.

What is one nugget of information that you would like to share with small business owners?

If you do right by your employees and customers, they will be willing to step in and support you in your roughest moments.

What is your favorite thing about Chattanooga?

I love the fact that Chattanooga is full of people who care about their local community and are willing to find ways to make an impact.

What is your tip for Idea Leap Grant participants?

Making your application meaningful, clear and concise.  There are two key points to consider: How will the funds help you sustain your business? What project have you been putting off that this funding opportunity could help you complete?



Relive the excitement from 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.

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