In modern Russian economy clustering is one of the most important prerequisites for boosting the innovative activity of the region and increasing its competitiveness. Clusters are an effective form of integrating different types of resources: natural and raw, material, financial, labor. It also provides to its participants competitive advantages and interrelations. The object of research are the subjects of the North Caucasus Federal District (NCFD), the subject of research is the dynamics of social and economic processes of subjects of the district, factors of formation of clusters. The goal of the study is determining the major factors of the lag in the development of the main macroeconomic indicators from the average Russian level, justification of the priority directions of cluster development. The comparative analysis of various theoretical concepts, the complex analysis of statistical data, systematization of results of research are performed. The analysis of the existing control systems of territorial clusters is carried out and the use of two main models of cluster formation in Russian practice is established. The level and dynamics of the main macroeconomic indicators of the North Caucasus Federal District and its subjects in comparison with the average Russian achievements are considered. The specifics of the district are shown and the main reasons for the lag and a crisis state are defined, the resource potential is determined, the priority directions of the long-term social and economic development are established. The study considers the problems of economic growth of the subjects of the North Caucasus Federal District and the major factors of using the cluster approaches. The research conducted has revealed that the North Caucasus macroregion experiences serious difficulties with achieving its development potential. The problem of finding the internal and external reserves of the region is especially urgent in connection with the imposition of sanctions and the need to stimulate the domestic scientific and technical achievements, and the innovative development of regions.