JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Johnson City is Tennessee’s top-ranked small city for small businesses in a just-released “Go Verizon” report that ranked nearly 400 cities.

“We have a lot of independent businesses here,” Johnson City Washington County Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Cantler said Thursday after learning of the ranking. “We have a lot of independent restaurants, and I think it just adds to the vibe and the flavor of Johnson City, and so we’re excited when we see new people moving here and bringing new businesses.”

A Verizon business partner, Go Verizon’s ranking used a methodology that took into account six main factors among nearly 300 cities with populations between 50,000 and 75,000. Percent of residents with a bachelor’s degree, travel time to work and per capita income each counted 15%. Broadband access counted for 10% of total score, loans per business (loan availability) was 20% and tax score was tops at 25%.

Patriot Popcorn is a small business that recently relocated from Illinois to Johnson City. (WJHL Photo)

Johnson City ranked 64th overall, and more than half the states had top cities that ranked lower than that while several states put between five and 10 cities in the top 50.

The methodology “has as much merit as any of these type of rankings that are published,” Milligan University economist David Campbell said. “To their credit they are reasonably explicit about what is included and how it impacts the ranking.”

Campbell said he found it interesting that the study “seems to be looking for a highly educated yet inexpensive workforce.”

The Chamber’s Cantler said Johnson City has a rich supply of access to business services for would-be entrepreneurs, from East Tennessee State University’s Innovation Lab and Small Business Development Center to “co-starter” classes through the Chamber and an independent group, Founder’s Forge, that’s helping entrepreneurs.

“We’re seeing a lot of people leave companies saying, ‘I want to be my own business owner,'” Cantler said.

“We hear from the bankers and the financial institutions saying they’re getting more activity in terms of small business loans.”

Campbell agreed and said he wasn’t surprised to see Johnson City high on the list.

“It has long had an active entrepreneurial community through organizations like the ETSU Innovation lab, but recently the community has really started to evolve due to organizations like Founders Forge and Spark Plaza working to develop an effective startup network,” Campbell said.

Cantler said the business climate seems to be helping fuel Johnson City’s recent population growth.

“A lot of people have moved into the community and they’re bringing their business plans and concepts here,” he said. “We’re looking forward to what new opportunities are coming down the road.”