According to the federal government, Ohio has just fewer than 940,000 small businesses.

They're not all in Clintonville; it just seems that way.

Although the neighborhood has its share of fast-food and casual-dining chain restaurants and a sizeable enterprise or two, the main commercial corridors along North High Street and Indianola Avenue are dominated by small businesses.

"This community really has a drive for supporting small business," said Meghan Colleli, owner with husband John and his brother Frankie of Villa Nova Ristorante. "They really want to know the background of places. They want to know the history.

"I think the Clintonville area is especially devoted to supporting their small businesses."

Welcomemat Services, an Atlanta-based firm, helps small- business owners connect with new residents in their areas, and can back that up with statistics. Villa Nova is a client.

Welcomemat Services, which local representative Lee Wagner said uses 26 different sources to identify people moving to homes near its clients, for the second year in a row has ranked the top 25 communities (out of more than 375 nationwide) based on their support of small businesses.

Clintonville comes in ninth, just ahead of Northville, Michigan, and just behind South Austin, Texas.

Roswell, Georgia, came in first this year, said Brian Mattingly, CEO of Welcomemat Services.

"We help local businesses connect with people moving into the local community," he said. "We study a ton of demographics, bringing big data down to the local business level."

Factors that go into the top 25, according to Welcomemat, include the number of new residents, business density, "community vibe and commitment to shop local" and "sense of community and family friendliness."

"Clintonville is a neighborhood unlike any other," Welcomemat's website states. "This area may not be a well-known shopping destination, but the abundance of local stores, cafes and restaurants make this neighborhood especially unique. Clintonville was also a stop on the Underground Railroad, so they pride themselves on their place in history."

Clintonville Historical Society President Mary Rodgers, who left her job as chief financial officer for Columbus Wood Products in 2010 to open a candy store and meeting space called Moxie's on North High Street, agreed with that assessment.

"I believe that Clintonville is just very nicely situated as far as its position in central Ohio, having the international airport here and having the capital of the state here," she said. "It's nice to be near downtown but not in downtown."

"I can't imagine having opened Wholly Craft anywhere else but Clintonville," said Olivera Bratich, who opened her small business on North High Street in 2005. "The people have been supportive from the start. Clintonville is a community that's geared to supporting small businesses. It's a community that's interested in having a sense of local community."

"There's just a lot of community in Clintonville," Rodgers said.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, Ohio has 939,317 businesses that meet the definition of employing fewer than 500 people. That represents 99.6 percent of all businesses in the state. The 2.1 million people employed by small businesses represent 46 percent of those with jobs in Ohio. The SBA reports that the 2010 census showed the U.S. had 27.9 million small businesses, compared with 18,500 firms with more than 500 employees.

"In terms of what we see, we work with thousands of small businesses across the nation, and definitely the sentiment and the mood is positive," Mattingly said.

"As a small-business owner, if you want to be sustainable and you want to be in it for the long haul, you have to be flexible," Bratich said. "You have to change with the times and you have to listen to your customers.

"Your business has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the customers."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1