Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) is asking for the public to choose one People’s Choice Finalist in each regional Idea Leap Grant – the credit union’s annual program that awards funds to local entrepreneurs. The People’s Choice Finalist in each area will participate in one of the upcoming pitch competitions in which TVFCU is giving away $75,000 in the Chattanooga area and $50,000 each in the Northwest Georgia and Cleveland areas. The remaining finalists who will compete in each pitch night will be selected by volunteer panels of community judges in each area based on recent site visits.

“We’ve made the 6th Annual Idea Leap Grant bigger than ever with a total of $175,000 to be awarded to local small business owners across our 17-county service area,” said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services. “We want community members to have a chance to participate and help us choose which entrepreneurs receive funding from this program, so we have opened up People’s Choice Voting as an avenue for that feedback.”

Chattanooga-Area Semifinalists are competing for five grants – first place receives $30,000, second place wins $15,000 and three runners-up will receive $10,000 each. The Chattanooga-area semifinalists are:

·         Alchemy Spice Company

·         Cocoa Asante

·         RMJ USA

·         Simply Props

·         TEREN

·         The Local Juicery

·         The Professional Cleaning Solution

·         The Speech Language Reading Center

·         W Salon

·         We Clean Chattanooga

Cleveland-Area Semifinalists are competing for three grants – first place receives $25,000, second place wins $15,000 and third place receives $10,000. The Cleveland-area semifinalists are:

·         Anistasis Wellness

·         Biskit NV

·         Carroll Printing Company

·         Direct Primary Care Associates, PLLC

·         Happy Tails Grooming Salon

·         Mayfield Farm Park

·         Rods Rocking Rolls

Northwest Georgia-Area Semifinalists are competing for three grants – first place receives $25,000, second place wins $15,000 and third place receives $10,000. The Northwest Georgia-area semifinalists are:

·         Alarm City

·         Battlefield Outdoors

·         Baxter Dean Studio

·         Birria Broz

·         Dalton Brewing Company

·         DIRT Design & Décor 

·         Foundation Direct Family Care

·         Hillside Farm

·         Inflated LLC

To vote, visit tvfcu.com/vote, select a regional competition to see all Idea Leap Grant semifinalists in that area and watch the semifinalists’ videos showcasing their business and their intended use of the grant money. Simply click “vote” and enter a valid email address to cast a vote. Each person may only vote once in each competition, and voting is open from March 27 at 12:00 a.m. to March 31 at 5 p.m.

During the second week in May, TVFCU will host pitch competitions in Chattanooga, Cleveland and Dalton where each Idea Leap Finalist will present their business to a panel of local judges and members of the public and will win grants between $10,000 and $30,000. The credit union will open up RSVPs for these events, and a luncheon, in the coming weeks. Follow TVFCU on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn for continual Idea Leap updates.

The Idea Leap Grant, which started in 2018, 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 $5 million in loans to emerging and early-stage businesses through the loan initiative and has awarded over $300,000 in Idea Leap Grants and related scholarships.

For more information about the Idea Leap Grant, please visit tvfcu.com/idealeap.