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Meet Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union’s 5 Idea Leap Grant finalists

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Two workers with New Terra Compost stand beside compost bins.

NewTerra Compost provides a better solution for disposal of food residuals + compostables with convenient drop off locations across Chattanooga.

Photo provided by Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union

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A coffee shop, a restaurant, a composting company… what do these local businesses have in common?

On Tues., Oct. 18, they’ll compete for:

  • One grand prize of $50,000
  • One first place prize of $20,000
  • Three runners-up prizes of $10,000

… to support + expand their small business at Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union’s fifth annual Idea Leap Grant pitch competition.

Meet the five finalists (coming from an original pool of nearly 150 applicants):

  1. Be Caffeinated
  2. Mountain View Low Vision Services
  3. Neutral Ground Chattanooga
  4. NewTerra Compost
  5. Sleepyhead Coffee

To kick off the celebration, TVFCU is hosting the first-ever Idea Leap Luncheon at 11:30 a.m at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center featuring a panel of successful local entrepreneurs discussing their experiences as small business owners.

The festivities continue with the Chambliss Startup Social — an indoor/outdoor reception at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center — at 5 p.m. followed by the pitch competition at 6:15 p.m.

Enjoy drinks + hors d’oeuvres from Party Bites and Hutton & Smith’s craft beers (plus a DJ). Pro tip: All events are free but an RSVP is required due to limited seating.

What to expect on pitch night

The pitch competition will start at 6:15 p.m., and by the end of the evening, the five grants from TVFCU will be awarded. The five finalists will present their businesses before a panel of volunteer community judges + explain:

  • How they plan to use the grant funding
  • The impact they have on the local community
  • How they plan to improve and expand their business in the coming years

Idea Leap Grant by the numbers

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 $4 million in loans to emerging and early-stage businesses through the loan initiative
  • Awarded nearly $200,000 in Idea Leap Grants + scholarships 👏*
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