Start a Business

Cleveland County is nestled in the rolling piedmont of the southwestern portion of North Carolina situated in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Our county is the gateway between Asheville and Charlotte, and is centered between two of the largest metropolitan areas in the Carolinas – Charlotte and Greenville/Spartanburg. Cleveland County is easily accessed by four major interstates (I-85, I-77, I-26 and I-40) and the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which is just 40 minutes away.

Cleveland County is a progressive and business-friendly community. We want your business to succeed and are committed to ensuring that as a new business owner, your transition into this community is seamless.

Our municipalities offer ‘small town charm’, while big city attractions are less than an hour away. Our wonderful quality-of-place is evidenced by our reliable health care facilities, highly rated public schools, low crime rate, four-season climate, and other recreational and cultural opportunities. Gardner-Webb University is also located in Cleveland County, and offers a broad curriculum, a top rated Business School, and attacks students from all over the world.

Additionally, there are countless networking and advertising opportunities for small businesses through the Cleveland County Chamber, and the professionals there can give you additional guidance and answer questions that you may have about Cleveland County and North Carolina.

Small Business Start-up Resources

The Small Business Center at Cleveland Community College offers free classes and resources for starting and growing your small business. Access free resources for entrepreneurs here.

Interested in starting a business in Shelby, and don’t know where to begin?  The City of Shelby is here to help with all the information you need to make starting your new business a smooth and enjoyable process. Click here to view the Business Starter Guide

The Certified Entrepreneurial Community (CEC®) program is an economic development strategy that helps communities become entrepreneur-ready. Click here to access the Cleveland County Business Resource Guide.


North Carolina offers tax credits through Article 3J to qualifying businesses for the creation of new jobs, and for investments in new machinery and equipment. Training opportunities may also be available to your company through Cleveland Community College. Additionally, Gardner-Webb University offers tuition credits to companies that make a commitment to create a large number of jobs. For more information, contact the Economic Development Partnership to see if you may qualify for any of the aforementioned incentitives.


Total Population 99,519
Total Households 35,638
Average Age 42
Household Income
Median HHI
2008  $43,264 $21,276
2016 $49,674 $23,509
2019 $42,247 $22,589

Employment by Industry
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Mining 4,011 8.5%
Construction 3,431 7.7%
Manufacturing 11,364 25.5%
Transportation, Utilities 1,916 4.3%
Information 624 1.4%
Wholesale Trade 1,515 3.4%
Retail Trade 4,991 11.2%
Fire 1,649 3.7%
Services 17,292 38.8%
Public Administration 1,471 3.3%




Cleveland County is easily accessed by four major interstates (I-85, I-77, I-26, and I-40) and the Charlotte Douglas International Airport is only 40 minutes away.



Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) is located only 40 minutes from Cleveland County

– 29 million passengers a year, and is the 10th busiest airport in the country.

– 623 daily departures with direct non-stop service to 127 destinations, including international service to Germany, England, Canada, Mexico, and South America. It is often said that Charlotte is at most one plane change away from virtually any major city in the world.


Motor Freight

10 Trucking companies with terminals in Charlotte, NC.


Rail System

Norfolk Southern and CSX.


Sea Ports

Within a 4 hour truck or rail ride, the deep sea ports of Charleston, Savannah, Wilmington and Morehead City can all be reached.



United Parcel Service (UPS), Federal Express (FedEx) and DHL service the area.