• About Santa Maria Valley

  • Designated in 1998 as an All American City, Santa Maria has something for everyone! 

    Santa Maria is located on the famed Highway 101 at the mid-point of California’s Central Coast and is the largest city in Santa Barbara County with a population of over 106,000. Santa Maria is the industrial, commercial, agriculture and retail hub for a region that includes approximately 165,000 residents located in Northern Santa Barbara County and neighboring Southern San Luis Obispo County.

    Known for our famous Santa Maria-style barbecue and our many rolling grapevine covered hills producing a fabulous wine industry, the Santa Maria Valley is becoming home to an increasing number of vineyards, wineries and wine makers! The Santa Maria Valley region produces strawberries, celery, lettuce, peas, squash, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli and beans. Learn more about why you should visit the Santa Maria Valley!

    Santa Maria is also home to thriving industries including aerospace, communications, high-tech research and development, energy production, military operations, and manufacturing. 1902 marks the date that oil was discovered at the Orcutt Oil Field and has produced more than $640 million of oil over the years. Manufacturers in our area produce a wide array of products raging from medical testing supplies to aircraft interiors and baby care products to fire hoses.

    Enjoy Santa Maria’s world-class wineries, vibrant cultural scene with world-class theatre anchored by the PCPA/Pacific Theatre Conservatory, world-class Rodeo, biking through idyllic rolling hills, 12 miles of the Pacific coastline, tallest beach dunes, smog free air and mild temperatures year-round. When you visit Santa Maria, you’ll want to stay and be a part of such a warm & welcoming city!

  • Additional Economic Information

  • Agriculture Agriculture

    Agriculture continues to be the foundation on which our local economy is built.  The Santa Maria Valley is a leading producer of Strawberries, Wine Grapes, Broccoli, Head Lettuce, Avocados, Cauliflower, Celery, and a wide variety of other leafy vegetables.  The overall value of these crops exceeds $1.4 billion annually and continues to grow. 

    For additional information, we recommend these resources: 

    Workforce/Education Workforce/Education


    Santa Maria Valley’s diverse economy is supported by a high quality workforce.   Supported by the region’s universities, our local community college, and a range of public and private sector training resources, local employers are able to draw from a regional pool of employees to meet their needs.

    Employers needing to access resources to find or train employees should connect with the following organizations:

    Workforce Resource Center (1410 S  Broadway Ste A, Santa Maria; 805-614-1543)

    Workforce Development Board

    Allan Hancock College



    Santa Maria is served by a wide range of educational resources, which provide both a solid foundation for our youth, but also serve the business community by producing high quality graduates and offering industry-focused training services.

    Higher Education

    Santa Maria is located within an hour of two world-class universities.   UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) and California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo (CalPoly) both feature outstanding teaching and research.

    Closer to home, Allan Hancock College serves all of Northern Santa Barbara County.   Enrollment in the college's credit curriculum is approximately 11,500 students per semester, while Community Education serves an additional 5,500 students each semester.   Credit students are enrolled in more than 150 fields of study via 12 academic departments.   Approximately 1,300 faculty, staff, and students are employed by the college, making it one of the region's largest employers.    AHC's economic impact exceeds $200 million annually.

    In addition to these public higher education institutions, Santa Maria is served by a number of private colleges and universities, including:

    Brandman University Academic Centers
    Laurus College
    Santa Barbara Business College

    Public K-12 Education

    The Santa Maria Valley is served by five high schools, seven junior high schools, and 25 elementary schools.    The schools are overseen by a total of four districts, including:

    Santa Maria Joint Union High School District

    Orcutt Union School District

    Santa Maria-Bonita School District

    Blochman Union School District

    For additional information about public education in the Santa Maria Valley, please visit the Santa Barbara County Education Office.


    Healthcare Healthcare

    Santa Maria Valley is home to Marian Regional Medical Center (MRMC), which is the anchor hospital for Dignity Health Systems Central Coast area.   MRMC has been serving patients on the Central Coast for nearly 75 years, building on its heritage of being founded as Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospital by the Sisters of St. Francis.   In response to a rapidly growing population in the Santa Maria Valley and ongoing advances in medical technology, MRMC built a new state-of-the-art, 191-bed hospital, which opened in the spring of 2012. 

    Marian Regional commitment to excellence next led the Medical Center to become an accredited teaching facility, operating a Family Care Residency Program.   MRMC continues to be recognized by industry-leading certifications and awards.   Marian Cancer Care is one of only three cancer programs between San Francisco and Los Angeles to be accredited as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center and has received 8 commendations for outstanding achievement from the Commission on Cancer.

    A sampling of recent recognitions can be found at https://www.dignityhealth.org/central-coast/locations/marianregional/about-us.

    For information about additional medical providers and services available in the Santa Maria Valley, please visit the Chamber’s member directory.

    Labor / Workforce / Employers Labor / Workforce / Employers

    The Santa Maria Valley is diverse in the many different companies while continuing to maintain our primary industry of a manufacturing base with a significant amount of agriculture. With Vandenberg Air Force base being one of the largest employers in the region, they play a significant role in the region’s economy employing over 6,000 individuals. Other larger employers range from Healthcare, Education, and Retail. Santa Maria is a resource full of well-trained, skilled and capable workforce. 


    1st Quarter 2018 C Labor Market Report by EDD
    April 2018 Labor Market Report by WDB
    State of California Labor Market Information
    Santa Barbara County & City information available here

    Real Estate Real Estate

    Housing Market

    Affordable Housing in Santa Maria

    Commercial Real Estate Market

    Brought to you by our Partners at Pacifica Commercial Realty, compiled from the available data at the time, information may be subject to change.


    Santa Maria Industrial Update 4th Quarter 2017

    2016 1st Quarter Update

  • History

  • History of Santa Maria Valley History of Santa Maria Valley

    The beginnings of Santa Maria Valley’s development date back to the adventurous era of Spanish land grants and ranchos. After Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo arrived in the Valley in 1542, and the Portola exploration party passed through in 1769 during its search for the Monterey Bay, two sites were eventually chosen to the north and southwest for missions built by the Spanish church. Mission San Luis Obispo (1772) and La Purisima Concepcion (1787) were catalysts for early settlement, and flourished until 1821 when Spain granted Mexico independence and the missions were secularized. Lands were broken up and for the first time individuals were granted land ownership.

    When Benjamin Foxen purchased Rancho Tinaquaic in 1837, he and his Spanish Bride, the former Eduarda Osuna, built a small adobe on the property. The Foxen family lived for many generations on the rancho where Benjamin was called “Don Julian” by Eduarda’s people. One of Foxen’s daughters, Ramona, married Englishman Frederick Wickenden. Their early adobe still stands. Ramona longed for a nearby church as the drive to the Santa Inez Mission proved to be quite a task with their many small children. Ultimately, the death of Benjamin Foxen inspired the construction of the San Ramon Chapel in 1875. Today, the chapel, which may still be seen along Foxen Canyon Road, has been dedicated as County Landmark No. 1 and as State Landmark No. 877.

    Santa Maria Valley’s first town was La Graciosa, which included a store, post office and school located near present-day Orcutt. However, in 1877, H.M. Newhall was granted the land on which the town was built, and summarily ejected one and all.

    While the nineteenth century saw California gain statehood, the Santa Maria Valley blossomed as one of the most productive agricultural regions in the state. The area’s multi-ethnic population also grew as Swiss-Italian dairymen, and Filipino, Portuguese and Japanese farmers joined the already established English, Irish, Scottish and Mexican settlers. Between 1869 and 1874, four of the Valley’s prominent settlers, Rudolph Cook, John Thornburg, Isaac Fesler and Isaac Miller, farmed the land at the corners of Broadway and Main Streets. In 1874, these individuals each donated a square-mile of land where their properties met to form a four-mile city center. The township was surveyed in the fall of 1874, and the surveyor’s maps were accepted and recorded at the county seat on April 12, 1875. First christened Grangerville, and later Central City, the name was ultimately changed to “Santa Maria” on February 18, 1885 because mail was often mistakenly sent to Central City, Colorado. The city remained limited to four square miles until 1954. Since then, annexations have increased its size to roughly 21 square miles.

    Rich, gushing oil was discovered in the Santa Maria Valley in 1904 near what is now Orcutt. When exploratory crews struck a huge gusher, they lovingly nicknamed it “Old Maud,” and for the next 80 years, the oil industry flourished. Development intensified in the 1930s, and, by 1957, as many as 1,775 oil wells were producing $64 million worth of oil annually.