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TVFCU announces five finalists in Idea Leap Grant Competition

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) announced five finalists in the Fifth Annual Idea Leap Grant contest. These entrepre

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) announced five finalists in the Fifth Annual Idea Leap Grant contest. These entrepreneurs will participate in a pitch competition on Oct. 18 at Bessie Smith Cultural Center, as they strive to win one of five grants to support and expand their small business. The grand prize winner will receive $50,000, the first place winner receives $20,000, and the three runners-up all receive $10,000.

This year, nearly 150 small businesses applied for the competition. This was reduced to 23 quarterfinalists, then, after the quarterfinalists submitted videos and hosted site visits, 10 semifinalists were selected. Now, the five Idea Leap Grant finalists for 2022 are:

Be Caffeinated

Location: Chattanooga, Tenn.

Owners: Christopher Wood & Douglas Lee

Established: 2019

Grant Intentions: Purchasing new equipment to add New York-style bagels to their bakery lineup


Mountain View Low Vision Services

Location: Hixson, Tenn.

Owner: Cheryl Saucier

Established: 2018

Grant Intentions: Purchasing devices that she could leave with potential referrers to showcase products. Would also create a video training library for gatekeepers, occupational therapists, families and VIPs (visually impaired individuals)


Neutral Ground Chattanooga

Location: Chattanooga, Tenn.

Owner: Kenyatta Ashford

Established: 2020

Grant Intentions: Purchasing two professional combination ovens that increase efficiency in the kitchen


NewTerra Compost

Location: Wildwood, Ga.

Owners: Normand Lavoie & Michael Ryan

Established: 2020

Grant Intentions: Constructing a building for office space that would provide a resting place from outdoor manual labor, enhance NewTerra’s productivity and work environment and offer indoor plumbing. Will also put finished product indoors so it’s available without being weather-dependent and will be able to mix compost into soil blends


Sleepyhead Coffee (People’s Choice Award Winner)

Location: Chattanooga, Tenn.

Owners: Christian Harris & Brandon Carruth

Established: 2018

Grant Intentions: Opening an improved, larger bakery space for vegan and gluten-free pastries