Downtown Johnson City

Connect Downtown Johnson City, a Tennessee Main Street organization, is seeking applicants to open a retail marketplace in the downtown district.

The organization received a Placemaking Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in 2020. Funds in the grant are designed to support a business owner to lease a large first-floor space that will be filled with artists, makers and retailers.

To be eligible for the grant, business owners must complete the upcoming CO.STARTERS workshop series.

An additional opportunity provided under the Placemaking Grant is for funding to support local entrepreneurs to open a short-term pop up shop in the district.

“Through our DowntownNOW marketing, we have been able to showcase some available properties downtown and share the stories of several successful business owners in our district,” said Johnson City Development Authority Executive Director Dianna Cantler. “Now, the next step is to encourage and provide training for those who have a desire to build their own business. This Placemaking Grant will help us complete our goal to fill a large vacant space in downtown, as well as support local micro-entrepreneurs.”

“I would recommend opening a business in downtown Johnson City 100 percent,” said 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.

“The goal for any business that opens should be to succeed, and with the proper planning, it can be possible,” said Economic Vitality chairman David Nelson.

“We have discovered that even someone with a great business idea needs support and guidance. The CO.STARTERS program has helped us encourage business growth in the service industry, retail and media start ups. We want businesses to succeed by making sure they begin with a strong foundation in entrepreneurship and to connect them with other entrepreneurs to help them build a support network for the future.”

For more details about the DowntownNOW grant and how to apply for CO.STARTERS go to The next CO.STARTERS cohort begins April 13.

Connect Downtown Johnson City is a 501 ( c) 3 organization with the mission to foster a thriving downtown ecosystem that is desirable for residents, businesses, and visitors by forging partnership and facilitating community connections. The organization is an accredited program of National Main Street.