The NORTHEAST OHIO AREAWIDE COORDINATING AGENCY was organized in 1968 and approved by the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to review local project applications for federal funds to ensure they were both sound and consistent with local and regional needs. NOACA's 5-county region included Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga, and Medina counties, and its governing committee of elected officials from the region agreed to emphasize 7 types of planning projects: housing, economics, parks and open spaces, water and sewer facilities, land use, information and data systems, and transportation. In July 1969 NOACA absorbed the Cleveland-Seven County Transportation-Land Use Study (SCOTS).
By 1970 there was conflict within NOACA when Mayor Carl Stokes protested Cleveland's underrepresentation on its board and the agency's neglect of the city's needs. His complaints to HUD resulted in a temporary decertification of NOACA in 1971. In 1974 Portage and Summit counties left NOACA, reducing it to a more compact 5-county area, and the agency assumed responsibility for coordinating the area's transportation funds, and for coordinating and planning water and air pollution projects. With the added responsibilities, NOACA's staff grew from 35 to 102 during the 1970s, with a budget of more than $3 million. However, when the Reagan administration reduced the federal bureaucracy in the 1980s, NOACA's workload and budget were also reduced. This prompted the agency to expand its operation by marketing its information services to businesses and local governments through NOACA Data & Consulting Services. In 1995 the agency operated with a staff of 48.