The history of Northeast Ohio is a reflection of the history of the United States. Originally inhabited by native Americans whose tribes were a part of the Iroquois Confederation of tribes, the area has always been blessed with the natural resources and waterways needed to make commerce flourish. More importantly, this geographical region instills in its inhabitants the industriousness to shape and mold these resources into innovation and growth.
During the early 18th century, the area was considered to be part of the western boundary for the new and fledgling United States. Claimed by the State of Connecticut as their western territory, Northeast Ohio came to be known as the “western reserve.” As the pioneers moved into the area, they brought with them the rugged determination and work ethic that has become the backbone of this region.
These values were further enhanced in the mid-1800s by the mass immigration of western European families seeking a better life. Fueled by this group’s strong work ethic and the products of the industrial revolution, Northeastern Ohio quickly became a national center for transportation and manufacturing. Its proximity to Lake Erie, along with its system of interconnected canals and waterways, and its quick adaptation of the railroad made the region a major center for U.S. western expansion during the middle and late 1800s.
As the nexus of this growth, the region soon became the home to major industries that helped shape America’s future through the 20th century. Key among these were steel (Cleveland, Youngstown), rubber (Akron), and oil/petroleum (Cleveland). With the availability of natural resources arriving via the Great Lakes to ports in the region, the large number of railway systems, the nearness of the automobile industry in Detroit, and the eventual growth of the region as the hub for the inter-state trucking industry, Northeast Ohio has been able to continuously innovate, evolve and lead.
Finally, as the manufacturing economy of the early to mid-20th century gradually gave way to the ever evolving technological and digital economy of the 21st century, the region has continued to demonstrate its adaptability to change and its capacity to lead. As a major global innovator in such areas as nanotechnology, liquid crystals and polymers, the region is well positioned to help companies grow and succeed now and in the future.