Cleveland: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Diversified manufacturing is a primary economic sector, resting on a traditional base of heavy industry in particular. Consistent with a nationwide trend, the services industry—transportation, health, insurance, retailing, utilities, commercial banking, and finance—is emerging as a dominant sector. Cleveland serves as headquarters to 11 companies on the Fortune 500 list, both industrial and non-industrial. These firms are, in order of their Fortune 500 rank: National City Corp., Eaton Corp., Parker Hannifin Corp., Sherwin-Williams Co., KeyCorp, Nacco Industries, American Greetings Corp., Ferro Corp., Medical Mutual of Ohio, Applied Industries Technologies, and Lincoln Electric Holdings. Cleveland is also home to nearly 150 international companies from 25 different countries.

Manufacturing has traditionally been the primary industry of northeast Ohio. It remains so today, although the local economy has suffered along with the rest of the nation during the recession of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Dubbed "Polymer Valley," the metropolitan Cleveland area has the largest concentration of polymer companies in the United States; for example, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the world's largest tire company, is headquartered in nearby Akron. The area's other manufacturing companies are engaged in such areas as the automotive industry, fabricated metals, electrical/electronic equipment, and instruments and controls.

Supported by the manufacturing industry is the science and engineering field. More than 168 engineering companies are located in the Cleveland metro area. These firms engage in civil engineering, construction, and the burgeoning field of information technology, which employs approximately 73,500 area workers. Among the local institutions of science and engineering are the Cleveland Engineering Society, the Cleveland Society of Professional Engineers, the Great Lakes Science Center, the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center, ASM (American Society for Metals) International, and the engineering schools of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, and the University of Akron.

Cleveland's research base for the biotechnology and biomedical industry has tripled in recent years, from $50 million to $150 million. More than 100 biotechnology firms are located in northeast Ohio, along with more than 100 research laboratories. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation has the nation's largest hospital-based department of biomedical engineering. Area colleges offer training in biomedical or bioscience technology; among them are Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Lakeland Community College, and the University of Akron.

Items and goods produced: automobile parts, bolts and nuts, machine tools, paints and lacquers, rubber and oil products, chemicals, rayon, foundry and machine shop products, electrical machinery and appliances, men's and women's clothing, iron and steel

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Businesses

Local programs

The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) was formed in 2003 through the merger of the Greater Cleveland Roundtable, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, and Cleveland Tomorrow. GCP provides access to local and state business incentives and job training programs. It can link businesses with a variety of assistance including international trade, business financing, tax credits and abatement programs, technology transfer, labor force recruitment, and training and market data. GCP is also affiliated with Growth Capital Corp., which provides financing assistance to businesses in northeast Ohio to facilitate business expansion, new facility construction, and equipment purchases. Neighborhood Progress Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers up to $5 million per year in low-interest funds to develop Cleveland's neighborhoods.

State programs

The state of Ohio offers a number of incentives designed to encourage new companies and retain existing businesses. Tax credit programs include those for job creation, machinery and equipment investment, export, research and development franchise, and technology investment. Ohio also offers a property tax abatement for areas identified as enterprise zones, and sales tax exemptions for research and development.

Job training programs

Ohio Industrial Training Program (OITP) is a state program that can provide assistance to a business through a competitive grant award. Funds are used to reimburse the incurred eligible training costs. OITP may assist a company up to a maximum of one-half of the project's total eligible training costs. The Ohio Job Training Tax Credit is offered to businesses engaged in manufacturing and other specified service industries. Career Service Centers offer customized training programs designed to meet the needs of a specific business, as well as other ongoing skill training for current or new employees; these Career Service Centers are operated by Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, and David N. Myers College.

Development Projects

In March 2004 Site Selection magazine ranked the Cleveland area, with 96 projects, the 10th in the nation for number of new and expanded corporate facility projects. Among these corporate projects were the expansion of Minolta's Cleveland facility, which added 25,000 square feet; the $4.5 million expansion of U.S. Cotton's facility; and a new, 5,000-square-foot distribution center for Netflix Inc.

The Milton & Tamar Maltz Jewish Heritage Museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2005. The $13.5 million, 24,000-square-foot facility will house displays, interactive exhibits, and a 60-seat theater. Groundbreaking will begin in September 2005 on a six-year, $258-million expansion and renovation of the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Western Reserve Historical Society will spend $30 million to create an additional 100,000 square feet of space to house its car and plane collection. Euclid Avenue is undergoing a $168 million renovation between the downtown Public Square and the Playhouse Square Center; construction is scheduled for completion in 2007.

Economic Development Information: Greater Cleveland Partnership, Tower City Center, Ste. 200, 50 Public Sq., Cleveland, OH 44113; telephone (216)621-3300; toll-free (888)304-GROW; fax (216)621-4617; email

Commercial Shipping

Cleveland is at the center of the nation's largest concentration of industrial and consumer markets. The city of Cleveland is home to more than 100 offices of motor freight carrier companies and there are many others located throughout the metropolitan area. Three railroads—Norfolk Southern, CSX Transportation, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad—serve the region. More than 1,200 miles of highways connect the region with other U.S. markets, and the World Trade Center Cleveland assists companies with international business ventures. Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport is served by 11 cargo-only carriers.

The Port of Cleveland, the largest overseas general cargo port on Lake Erie and third largest port on the Great Lakes, serves more than 50 countries, shipping cargo to and receiving cargo from 120 ports around the world. The Port is also the site of Foreign Trade Zone #40, an area where foreign goods bound for international destinations can be temporarily stored without incurring an import duty. Every service for shippers—banking, insurance, customs, stevedoring, and storage—is available from experienced firms. Each year the port handles 13 to 15 million tons of cargo, primarily semi-finished products, machinery, and such bulk cargo as iron ore, stone, cement, and salt. The port was visited by 898 ships in 2003.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The following is a summary of data regarding the Cleveland metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual average.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,073,400

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 44,600

manufacturing: 151,900

trade, transportation and utilities: 200,100

information: 20,200

financial activities: 81,100

professional and business services: 132,800

educational and health services: 164,700

leisure and hospitality: 92,400

other services: 44,200

government: 141,600

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $18.64

Unemployment rate: 6.3% (March 2005)

Cleveland: Economy

Largest metropolitan area employers Number of employees
Federal Government 18,728
Ford Motor Co. 11,800
Catholic Diocese of Cleveland 10,000
Board of County Commissioners 9,963
Cleveland Clinic Foundation 9,445
Cleveland Municipal School District 8,520
Charter One Bank 7,057
Invacare Corp. 5,630
The MetroHealth System 5,300
Cole Vision Corp. 5,168

Cost of Living

Cleveland's taxes are moderately high. According to the strategic plan presented by the Greater Cleveland Partnership in September 2004, "we are strangling ourselves with high taxes both on individuals and businesses." The report goes on to say that "local and state tax rates place many Cleveland suburbs among the highest-taxed communities in the country."

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Cleveland area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $253,363

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 103.4 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 0.691% to 6.980%

State sales tax rate: 7.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: 2.0%

Local sales tax rate: 7.5%

Property tax rate: basic rate ranges from 96.5 to 183.40 mills per $1,000 of assessed value

Economic Information: Greater Cleveland Partnership, Tower City Center, Ste. 200, 50 Public Sq., Cleveland, OH 44113; telephone (216)621-3300; toll-free (888)304-GROW; fax (216)621-4617; email