Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union proudly announces Chattanooga School of Language as the recipient of the first place prize for the Idea Leap Grant award. Nearly 200 people gathered at the Edney Building, Tuesday, October 23, to hear the ten finalists pitch their businesses. Only five finalists were selected as recipients of part of the $50,000 total in Idea Leap Grant funds.
Laurie Stevens, owner and operator of Chattanooga School of Language was very excited to be awarded the first place $20,000 grant. “Now, onward and upward to make language learning more accessible to more students, to our future leaders and workforce! Thank you TVFCU,” said Stevens. The additional funds will enable the hiring of more teachers, expanding Chattanooga School of Language’s opportunities of service to more individuals, schools and businesses.
“Each of the finalists did an amazing job presenting their business strategy and what they would do with the grant money. They were all deserving of the funds and it was a tough decision,” said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services at TVFCU. “The other grant award recipients included second place, $15,000 to Dish T’Pass, third place $10,000 to Mad Priest Coffee Roasters, and fourth and fifth places of $2,500 to LoAdebar and $2,500 to The Hot Chocolatier. None of the finalists walked away empty handed as TVFCU awarded the additional five runner-ups with $500 cash so that everyone went home a winner.
The evening ended with a surprise announcement by Todd Fortner, president and CEO of TVFCU as he presented a check for $2,500 to UTC’s Veterans Entrepreneurial Program (VEP) in honor of 200+ businesses who applied for the Idea Leap Grant funds and the panel of six judges who spent countless volunteer hours narrowing down the competition.
“TVFCU is a member-owned financial institution that believes in giving back to the communities we serve. By supporting local businesses as well as the Veterans Entrepreneurial program, we are helping to build a stronger workforce which benefits everyone,” said Fortner.
Now in its seventh year, the VEP at UTC places select veterans into a three-part, learning program including online education; eight-day classroom “boot camp” on UTC’s campus; and a mentorship and follow-through phase supported by successful business professionals. The VEP is provided entirely free of charge to all veterans selected to participate, which includes; all travel, accommodations, meals, materials and instructional costs.