The top 10 finalists picked for this year's Idea Leap grants include an array of small businesses in the food, fashion, vision and hospitality industries.
The Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, which created the Leap Loan Initiative three years ago and used the proceeds from those loans to add Idea Leap grants last year, announced this week the finalists who will try to sell their business ideas during Startup Week in Chattanooga. TVFCU's Pitch Night, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, located at 200 E. Martin Luther King Blvd.
"This program started as a way to reinvest Idea Leap Loan proceeds back into the community," said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services at TVFCU. "It is a grant — an award from the credit union to five area small businesses to help fulfill their next dream whether that is providing a new service or expanding their brick and mortar storefront."
Businesses in TVFCU's 13-county service area that have been in operation for at least one year and have fewer than 20 employees were eligible to apply for their chance at winning one of five grants to be awarded in October, including a $20,000 first place prize, a $15,000 second-place prize, a $10,000 third-place prize and two $2,500 fourth place prizes.
The 2019 Idea Leap Grant finalists who will participate in the pitch competition include:
* Chatta Cakes Bakery, started by Shannon Anderson in Hixson
* Real Roots Cafe, started by Matthew Lake in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
* Elea Blake Cosmetic Studio, stated by Darin Wright in Chattanooga
* The Rustic House, started by Emily Warr in Chattanooga
* Hank's Corner Grille, started by Doug Hankins in Tracy City, Tennessee
* Treetop Hideaways, started by Enoch Elwell in Flintstone, Georgia
* Hutton and Smith Brewing Company, started by Melanie Krautstrunk in Chattanooga
* Spectacles Family EyeCare, started by Karen LeBlanc in South Pittsburg, Tennessee
* Live and Let Live Barber Shop, started by Virgil McGee Sr. in Chattanooga
* Terra Running Company, started by Brittany Durkin in Cleveland, Tennessee