Build your business in Downtown Johnson City

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Connect Downtown Johnson City, the Chamber of Commerce of Johnson City/Jonesborough and Sync Space are partnering together to offer CO.STARTERS, a nine-week cohort based program that equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn ideas into action, and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving endeavor. The program is for aspiring or seasoned entrepreneurs looking to launch a new product or service.

Participants of the CO.STARTERS program work with a small and supportive group of like-minded people who are all trying to start their own businesses. Working together, participants identify their assumptions about why and how their respective businesses will succeed and talk with customers to validate their ideas. The process enables the entrepreneurs to rapidly uncover issues in their proposed businesses, find practical solutions quickly, and leave the program with a deeper understanding of how to launch a successful business.

The next session begins April 13 at 6 pm in Johnson City.

Cost of registration is $125 per person and includes a CO.STARTERS workbook. Registration deadline is Thursday, April 8. Registration is limited to 12 people.

Besides the incredible business tools and insight the participants will be receiving, there will be the opportunity for participants to pitch to receive several benefit packages, including cash prizes and a one year membership to the Chamber of Commerce.  

Connect Downtown Johnson City, through a grant from Tennessee Main Street, will be looking for a business owner to open a retail incubator in downtown. If a participant is selected for this grant, they would be eligible for up to $30,000 in funding towards a marketplace business. There are also grants available for pop up shop options at a lesser amount.

“The Johnson City Development Authority and now Connect Downtown Johnson City, our Main Street accredited program, have been hosting CO.STARTERS since 2016, said Executive Director Dianna Cantler. “We have been able to assist entrepreneurs develop and discern their ideas, some have opened businesses, and some have realized through the program, that their idea needed to be more developed. That is one of the benefits to CO.STARTERS, it makes you take a look at the idea to make sure it is a good investment of time and money.”

“I would recommend opening a business in downtown Johnson City 100 percent, says Hannah Dederick, the owner of Blue Willow Bridal. “There is a community in downtown where everyone supports each other. I would not have made it this far or done this well, if not for the support of the other business downtown.”

The DowntownNOW retail incubator and DowntownPOP programs have a timeline, with the goal to begin opening at least one location by July. Connect Downtown Johnson City will work alongside the chosen entrepreneurs to ensure a successful business launch.

CO.STARTERS came out of The Company Lab, a Chattanooga, Tennessee organization that offers programs and events to support local startups and innovators in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. The program takes the lessons learned from working with thousands of local, creative entrepreneurs and combines that knowledge with the lean business modeling methods used by high-growth startups.

For more information or to register for the program, go to

Wildabout Walkabout Scavenger Hunt

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Animal sculpture scavenger hunt installed in downtown Johnson City

Fifteen bronze animal sculptures have been installed in various locations throughout downtown Johnson City. Art students in the East Tennessee State University Department of Art & Design designed and fabricated the sculptures under the direction of professor Travis Graves. Connect Downtown Johnson City and the Johnson City Public Art Committee coordinated the project, and a group of educators and a librarian from the Johnson City Public Library created a scavenger hunt entitled “Wildabout Walkabout” by developing clues for the location of each sculpture. Scavenger hunt clue cards are available at various downtown businesses and through curbside pickup at the Johnson City Public Library. The clues may also be accessed on the Downtown Johnson City website at

“The creativity found in the animal sculptures is outstanding, and we hope this scavenger hunt will draw families downtown to enjoy for many years to come,” said Nancy Fischman, Johnson City Public Art Committee chairwoman.

“The clues were designed to introduce the animals to the kids and were written for different age levels,” said Dianna Cantler, executive director of the Johnson City Development Authority. “Some will be more difficult than others, but we anticipate that all ages will learn a bit more about animals that are indigenous to our region.”

The sculptures are located around the Johnson City Public Library, in and around King Commons, and along Main and Market Streets. The mural in King Commons entitled “Wildabout” inspired the types of animals that were selected for the sculptural works, and nearly all of the animal types chosen for the sculptures are also represented in the mural. Animal types utilized in the sculpture designs include the black bear, beaver, osprey, turtle, rock bass, ladybug, and cicada, among others.

The “Wildabout Walkabout” is the perfect activity to enjoy during upcoming spring breaks and beyond, as the sculptures are permanently installed downtown.

To learn more about the Johnson City Public Art Committee and Connect Downtown Johnson City, visit and

Downtown Wagon Wheel Mural Recognized by Old Crow Medicine Show!

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We all know the hit single, Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show.

What you may not know, is where this story begins. Ketch Secor, Co-Writer of Wagon Wheel, and Lead-singer of Old Crow Medicine Show shares how Johnson City, Tennessee, and Northeast Tennessee share a special place not only in his heart but in his lyrics.

A #1 music hit across the globe, shares the fame with Johnson City, Tennesse! You too can spread the fame of Johnson City, Tennessee by visiting downtown’s Wagon Wheel themed mural located in the Downtown Square Breezeway (216 E. Main Street).

-Stand in front of the mural

-Place your hand on the wheel

-Look back at the camera, smile, and wave as your “headed to JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE”

–Tag @downtownjctn and #WagonWheelJC

Mural by: Marci Berkhimer (@festivmotha)

**find more info here:

*don’t be alarmed if you hear people singing “Wagon Wheel” in the breezeway, we all love JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE here!

Johnson City Development Authority

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Johnson City Development Authority

Meeting Notice

The Johnson City Development Authority will have their monthly meeting on June 19 at 8 am.   This meeting will take place electronically, pursuant to Executive Order 16, issued by Gov. Bill Lee. There will not be a physical location in order to protect public health, safety, and welfare. There will be limited public access, however, a recording of the meeting will be available at within 2 days.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here: 06.19.20 JCDA Packet

To listen to the meeting:

To access the recording from the previous meeting, please email Dianna Cantler at

Grown & Gathered – a farm to table experience

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The Downtown Johnson City Foundation is fusing farm fresh food with a good cause for their annual farm-to-table experience. Grown & Gathered was a sellout event last year and features an intimate dining setting. Proceeds from the event will benefit Downtown Johnson City Foundation’s efforts towards downtown improvements.

Grown & Gathered will take place on Thursday, October 10. The dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and passed appetizers. The family style served dinner will be in the Pavilion at Founders Park.

Grown & Gathered is a seasonal feast prepared by Jamie Dove and Elise Clair and their team from The Main Street Pizza Company and River Creek Catering. The dinner will feature the bounty from 30 local farms and producers. Each year this team provides an exceptional menu of delicious items, and this year will be no different.

Music for the event will be provided by Cory Jeter. This year’s menu will celebrate the legacy of farming in our community as part of Johnson City’s Sesquicentennial Celebration. An added component will be recipe cards featuring handed down recipes from the community. To submit your family’s favorite, go to Downtown Johnson City’s Facebook page.

Tickets for the farm-to-table dinner will be $75 per person. Since last year was a sellout, we recommend getting tickets early. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite,  or in person at the JCDA office, 300 E. Main Street, Suite 406 (4th floor of the King Building) Monday through Friday from 9am – 4:30 am.

The Downtown Johnson City Foundation is a 501(c) (3) responsible for raising funds for downtown projects and improvements. For more information,

The event is sponsored by Ameriprise Financial Services – The Torbett Group

Johnson City Development Authority Request for Statement of Qualifications

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The Johnson City Development Authority (JCDA) is soliciting proposals from qualified developers to provide services in connection with the potential transfer of the budget authority of a Project-based Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Contract for 63 residential efficiency units and 87 residential one-bedroom units from the John Sevier Center to an alternative housing development. All bids should be received by 5:00 pm Friday, July 12, 2019.

Downtown Merchant Monday Spotlight- Cross Stitch & Crafts

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Cross Stitch & Crafts

Meet Sandra and Fred! They are downtown business owners and residents. Sandra has a passion for cross stitch and for Downtown Johnson City. If you are new to cross stitch, or need some more supplies, Cross Stitch & Crafts has it all! The art of cross stitch has changed so much because of all the new colors and fibers that are now available. Sandra and Fred stay busy year-round and have over a million items in the shop.

How did you develop a passion for cross stitch?

“I was born with it”. Sandra has been stitching since she was 6.

How long have you been in Downtown Johnson City?

The business has been downtown for 21 years.

Do you see cross stitching becoming less or more popular or staying the same?

Unfortunately, less popular because Sandra’s clients/customers are aging out.

What was your career prior to Cross Stitch and Crafts?

Nursing. Sandra graduated from ETSU.

What is it like to be a downtown business owner and resident?

Sandra and Fred love living downtown. One of Sandra’s favorite parts of being downtown is being able to walk almost everywhere. Prior to being downtown residents, they lived in North Johnson City but the building they were living in was having to be torn down. The real estate was reasonable at the time they were looking to relocate so they made the choice to be downtown and fell in love with Johnson City all over again.

What is the “and Crafts” part to your business?

Originally, it was going to be “finished crafts” such as crafts done with punch needle, needlepoint canvas that have the same fibers but different bases for them. When it comes to ordering kits, they can pretty much order anything you need. During the interview, Sandra added, “Couples will come in and look around the store and say, “okay we can move here”.

Where is your business located?

240 E W Main Street #200, Johnson City, TN 37604


Downtown Merchant Monday Spotlight- Crystal Massage

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Crystal Massage

Say hello to Crystal! She is the owner of Crystal Massage located in the King’s Centre Building on Main Street. She has a huge passion for massage therapy and loves being a downtown business owner.

What made you want to open a business downtown?

Crystal’s grandparents owned a few Dairy Queen restaurants back in the day in Downtown Johnson City and she has so many memories of them showing her what used to be downtown. She has always wanted to be in the downtown area.

How do you like working next to your husband?

Crystal says it’s very fun and convenient. It is a really good way to be together during the day while also having their own space.

What is a common misconception of massage therapy?

A common misconception is that people tend to think getting a massage is only for special occasions or a super expensive luxury when really it is something that is affordable and has numerous health benefits.

What is the best thing about being a small business owner?

Having control of her time and flexibility.

What is the worst part about being a small business owner?

Finding the perfect balance between work and family life while also balancing time for Crystal’s employee as well.

Where is your business located?

300 E Main Street #154, Johnson City, TN 37601

Merchant Monday Spotlight-Downtown Yoga

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Downtown Yoga

Meet Kim! She’s the owner of Downtown Yoga right here in the heart of Downtown Johnson City. She offers a variety of different types of yoga classes in the most amazing studio. If you are new to yoga and want to try out a class or two, go checkout Downtown Yoga.

How long have you been involved in yoga?

Kim started doing yoga in 1999 and started teaching in 2004.

What made you interested in yoga?

She started taking classes at her local gym and ended up falling in love with it and developed a passion for yoga.

What are some common misconceptions about yoga?

What you see on social media and magazine covers misconstrues how yoga “is supposed to look”.

What is your favorite part about Downtown Johnson City?

Kim enjoys being able to walk everywhere and all the different downtown activities and events. One of her favorite parts of being downtown is keeping things local, supporting other businesses and being able to collaborate with other business owners.

Favorite restaurant downtown?


What do you love most about your business?

When asked this question, Kim responded with “The people”. She said that it starts with the students and goes all the way to the staff. “We attract people who are warm and welcoming. Ethic and integrity are super important here”.

What’s the hardest part about owning a business?

Kim said that getting people to try yoga for the first time was the hardest part.

How long have you been downtown?

3 ½ years

Where is your business located?

122 Spring St, Johnson City, TN 37604


Downtown Merchant Monday Spotlight- Olson’s Martial Arts

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Meet Amanda, Glenn, Keith and Katie Olson! They are owners of Olson’s Martial Arts in Downtown Johnson City. They all have a huge passion for martial arts and believe it is an activity for everyone of all ages.

What is your favorite thing about martial arts?

Amanda said, “My favorite thing as an instructor of martial arts is seeing people accomplish things they never thought were possible”.

What made you want to be in Downtown Johnson City?

The Olson’s needed more space and thought it was fun to be part of the re-birth of the downtown area. “Seeing the area grow and come to life was awesome to see”.

Favorite downtown restaurant?

Southern Craft or Korean Taco

How long has the business been in Downtown Johnson City?

Originally, the business was on N. Roan Street for 22 years, but they have been downtown for 2.5 years.

How did you get involved in martial arts?

Amanda was ten years old when she started. Her little brother started taking classes and she thought it looked like fun. “I never looked back and continue to train, learn and teach”.

What is a fun fact about martial arts?

Their youngest student is 4 years old and the oldest is around 80.

Where is your business located?

113 Cherry St. #10, Johnson City, TN 37604