Driving toward the heart of downtown Cleveland is a beautiful thing. For many outsiders, Cleveland can have the stigma that it’s poor, the housing market is bad, it smells like burning oil, there are a lot of people without homes, and it was dirty enough that its river caught on fire. Yikes. Well, driving on East 55th on my way to volunteering at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, I couldn’t help but notice all of the little mom and pop shops there. Whether they are boarded up or very much alive in business, it’s quite beautiful because it reminded me how entrepreneurial Cleveland is.

Think about this for a second. However dull Cleveland’s image might be, I can’t help but think about where some of these people have come from whether it’s being brought up in a tough environment and breaking through struggles or dreaming of having a business and deciding one day to make the move despite pragmatic circumstances.

Underneath these businesses-dead or alive-there were dreams. It was amazing to see businesses come from dreams that formed into reality that ranged from deli corner stores to beauty salons to hardware stores. Starting a business takes tremendous faith and courage and I only have admiration for those embracing the entrepreneurial dream.

Unique businesses in Cleveland

Cleveland is not only unique with the melting pot of people living in it, but the types of industries and business that lie in it. Cleveland has been a large manufacturing hub with its history of steel and automotive firms to becoming a large tech scene with investors pouring in over $200 million dollars, to being a large “foodie” scene with its crafty restaurants and food trucks, which all tap into the entrepreneurial arena.

Schools and ventures are also investing in entrepreneurship programs. Many millennials today are heading down the entrepreneurial path as they don’t have retirement plans like the old days. They are finding quicker, easier ways to do things-especially with the help of technology. I don’t know about you, but I know I can’t wait to see what Cleveland does in the future and I’m so excited to be a part of it!

Do you own a business in Cleveland? If so, share the name of your business is the comments below!