Coordinates: 35°32′43″N78°29′52″W / 35.54528°N 78.49778°W / 35.54528; -78.49778Cleveland is a township and an unincorporated community in suburban northwestern Johnston County, North Carolina. It lies at an elevation of 243 feet (74 m). The settlement is also known as Cleveland Crossings, Cleveland Community, Cleveland School or 40/42, so named for the intersection of I-40 and NC 42 at the northeastern edge of the community, which serves as the primary commercial hub of the area. NC 50 skirts the western edge of the community. The community's population is concentrated along Cleveland Road (also known as Cleveland School Road) in Johnston County; while officially unincorporated, postal addresses for the community generally lie in Garner (for the northern parts of the community), Clayton (in the eastern and central part of the community) and Benson (for the southern part of the community). The community is named for the Cleveland School, a former K-12 school lying on Cleveland Road; the grounds of which currently house a community center, senior adult housing, a gymnasium and numerous athletic fields managed by the Greater Cleveland Athletic Association (GCAA), and a branch of the Johnston Community College. Nearby unincorporated communities include McGee Crossroads to the south along NC 50 and Willow Spring to the west along NC 42.
There have been several efforts to incorporate the fast-growing community, though the issue was tabled by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1999. Since there is already a town known as Cleveland, North Carolina elsewhere in the state, the name of the proposed incorporated town has been a minor point of contention. Thousands of new homes have been built in the community, making it one of the faster-growing areas in Johnston County. Its location at a major interchange along Interstate 40 has made it a burgeoning business center.