The committee made the decision at its summer meeting in Chicago. Cleveland's Democratic mayor, Frank Jackson, joined the Republicans for a ceremony at the Westin Hotel.
The Quicken Loans Arena will be the main convention venue with some events held at neighboring Progressive Field.
President Obama won the swing state and its 20 electoral votes in both 2008 and 2012 with just over half the vote.
The state was critical to President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004. Bush carried the state with 50.8 percent of the vote to 48.7 percent for John Kerry, and Democrats charged that Republican operatives had worked to suppress the vote in urban areas.
Cleveland's major tourist attraction -- some critics would say its only tourist attraction -- is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A guitar in front of the podium at the meeting Friday bore the label "Start Here. Finish Here."