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John Polly, a sign technician with Adams Signs out of Nashville, Tenn., works on the Advance Financial 24/7 sign Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Employees from Adams Signs were going to most Advance Financial 24/7 locations to ensure all signs were installed correctly and were still secure.

The fastest growing small-dollar lender in Tennessee continued its expansion in the Chattanooga market by opening another branch in Ooltewah.

Advance Financial, the Nashville-based chain of 85 finance outlets, opened its ninth local outlet at 9232 Lee Highway. As with all other Advance Financial stores, the newest finance office will remain open around the clock.

Advance Financial, which began in Nashville in 1996, entered the Chattanooga market four years ago. The company offers short-term and flex consumer loans, typically ranging from $100 to $4,000. The privately owned company also offers check cashing, wire transfers, bill payments and unlimited free money orders.

Advance Financial said its loan product is not just a small dollar loan, but a flexible line of credit —called a FLEX Loan — that offers customers the freedom of access to funds on their schedule with no late fees or early payoff penalties.

"At Advance Financial, we are committed to serving more residents in Southeast Tennessee," Tina Hodges, the company's chief executive and chief experience officer, said in a statement Monday. "That's why we decided to open our first store in Ooltewah, and why we are looking forward to becoming a part of the community here."

Cullen Earnest, vice president of Advance Financial, said the company is continuing to expand in Tennessee.

"We've received such a warm welcome from our new customers in East Tennessee that we'll certainly continue to look for new growth opportunities in the area as they arise.,"Earnest said. "Most of our focus moving forward will be expansion in West Tennessee."

In Hamilton County, nearly 100 storefronts offer different types of short-term, usually high-interest loans through title, payday, flex and consumer loan arrangements.

Advance Financial is unique in that its stores never close.

"We stay open 24/7 for the people who - for any reason - can't bank between 9 and 5," Earnest said. "The peace of mind that our customers get from knowing we're always open if they need to pay a bill or get a free money order is priceless.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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