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Cleveland, TN and Bradley County Build on Success of the Past

Industry flourishes here, bringing job growth and new main street developments.

By Livability on September 6, 2022

Morris Vineyard and Winery, Charleston, TN
Courtesy of Cleveland-Bradley County Chamber of Commerce

It’s one thing for a city to boast a strong business and manufacturing history, but it’s quite another to keep up the good work for more than 160 years and counting. 

Cleveland, TN, has managed to do both while offering a small-town feel with big-city amenities. 

Bradley County is home to 12 Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Duracell and Whirlpool, and several other top employers like Wacker and Mars Chocolate North America, many of whom have flourished here for decades. 

So, it might not come as a surprise that Cleveland consistently outperforms larger markets in job growth and industry. 

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently ranked the city first in the state for job growth percentage in 2021. And SmartAsset, a respected online source of consumer financial information, named Cleveland No. 5 out of 400 metro areas in its 2021 edition of “Best Places to Work in Manufacturing.” 

Cleveland-Bradley County
Courtesy of Cleveland-Bradley County Chamber of Commerce

An accredited Tennessee Main Street Community since 1990, Cleveland is also an ideal location for small businesses, from coffee shops and interesting restaurants to antique stores and clothing boutiques. 

“The chamber and other organizations are great about advocating for small business owners who benefit from low overhead costs and customer loyalty,” says Tasha Sullivan, the chamber’s director of communications and marketing. “There’s a lot of opportunity here for any type of small business, including real estate.” 

That abundance of real estate goes for homes, too, as more people move to Bradley County, often for outdoor recreation options like hiking, mountain biking, fishing and rafting on the Ocoee River in nearby Polk County. 

Many also enjoy the popular Cleveland-Bradley County Greenway, which winds beside Mouse Creek and through parks and school properties via a network of smaller paths. 

Manufacturing sites are plentiful as well. “Part of what draws the industry here is knowing that there are places for them to go, such as our Spring Branch Industrial Park, right on the interstate,” Sullivan says. 

Respectful of the past but always focused on the future, Cleveland leaders are currently revitalizing the downtown area, with plans for new, accessible urban spaces. 

Historic buildings are being transformed into trendy apartments and offices overlooking new streetscapes. 

Since true growth doesn’t happen without skilled employees, students in Cleveland and Bradley County are preparing for good-paying jobs in fields ranging from aviation and welding to pharmaceuticals and technology. 

Currently under construction, the PIE Innovation Center will immerse students in work-based STEM learning and creative design. A total of 33 Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways are already offered to high school students. 

“We have to create an educated and skilled workforce in the vital areas of science, math, engineering and information technology,” says Larissa Coleman, chamber director of workforce development. “Education is the backbone of a competitive workforce, so the chamber is making it a priority starting as early as fifth grade.” 

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