Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU), a financial cooperative headquartered in Chattanooga, provides an array of financial services to business and commercial members. Through TVFCU’s Idea Leap Loan Initiative, emerging businesses are able to receive loans up to $50,000.


Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) was established in 1936 when 57 Chattanooga TVA employees pooled $500 to create the member-owned credit union. Today, TVFCU serves more than 155,000 members who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school throughout the 13-county service area in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. With 19 branches and more than $1.8 billion in assets, TVFCU is the region’s largest credit union.

In 2016, TVFCU saw the need to offer loans specifically created for emerging and early-stage businesses. The community credit union created the Idea Leap Loan Initiative in October 2016, which fills a void in the community for loans up to $50,000 to emerging and early-stage businesses. TVFCU then established the Idea Leap Grant in October 2018 and has awarded more than $150,000 in grants to small businesses in the Tennessee Valley during Startup Week Chattanooga.

Idea Leap Loan Overview

  • Access to the Idea Leap Initiative is only available through a referral. Borrowers are required to be referred by one of the technical assistance providers listed below and are required to continue to receive assistance from one of the collaborators during the life of the loan.
  • Flexible and non-traditional underwriting criteria will be used to evaluate and approve loans.
  • Non-traditional collateral will be considered to include but not limited to, patents, trademarks and copyrights, intellectual property or other.
  • Loan approval process will be expedited, with a goal of a 24-hour turnaround time.
  • Funding available for early-stage businesses ranging from $2,500 to $50,000.

Idea Leap Loan Collaborators

  • BrightBridge
  • Causeway
  • Co.Lab
  • LAUNCHChattanooga
  • Tennessee Small Business Development Center-Chattanooga
  • Tennessee Small Business Development Center-Cleveland
  • Urban League of Greater Chattanooga
  • UTC-Veteran Entrepreneurship Program

Services Provided

Financial Resources and Assistance

  • Credit Unions
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Technology Grant Providers

Internship Programs and Student Services

  • Internship Program

Events and Community Building

  • Hackathon / Startup Week or Weekends
  • Neighborhood Fairs and Festivals
  • Pitch Events
Contact Information
Marcus Cade-Johnson
535 Chestnut Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402