Located at the mid-point of California’s Central Coast on the famed Highway 101, Santa Maria is the largest city in Santa Barbara County, and the largest city between Oxnard and Salinas.   Its estimated 2014 population was 103,410.   Santa Maria serves as the industrial, commercial, and retail hub for a region that includes approximately 153,000 residents located in Southern San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara County.

Notable for its wine industry and Santa Maria-style barbecue, Santa Maria’s economy is diverse and growing.   Historically one of the most productive agricultural regions, the region continues to be a major source of strawberries, wine grapes, celery, lettuce, peas, squash, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli and beans.  The Santa Maria area is home to an increasing number of vineyards, wineries and winemakers.

Santa Maria is also home to thriving industries including aerospace, communications, high-tech research and development, energy production, military operations, and manufacturing. The petroleum industry has had a large presence in the area since oil was first discovered at the Orcutt Oil Field in 1902. By 1957 there were 1,775 oil wells in operation in the Santa Maria Valley, producing more than $640 million worth of oil.    Santa Maria based manufacturers produce a wide array of products ranging from medical testing supplies to aircraft interiors and baby care products to fire hoses.

The Santa Maria Public Airport features the longest runway (8000-plus feet) on the Central Coast and offers a number of development opportunities including the potential for “thru the fence” operations.   Commercial passenger service is available to San Francisco and Las Vegas.   The Santa Maria Valley Railroad is a privately owned shortline which has served the region since 1911.   SMVRR provides daily freight service to customers along 14 miles of maintained mainline track.   SMVRR connects with the Union Pacific system at Guadalupe, CA, just west of Santa Maria.

Allan Hancock College, founded in 1920 as Santa Maria Junior 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 larger employers in the region.   Its economic impact on the community exceeds $200 million annually.

Allan Hancock College offers a wealth of science, math, engineering, architecture, English, computer science, art, music, and dance programs.  AHC is one of the most effective CA community colleges at preparing students for transfer to four-year universities, but in keeping with its mission to support the local economy, the college also provides award-winning training in unique programs tailored to the needs of local industries.

Marian Regional Medical Center (Dignity Health) is rated among the top 10% in the nation for cardiac care, and is a designated STEMI Receiving Center (ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction) in Santa Barbara County.  Santa Barbara County STEMI receiving programs earned the Silver Award from the American Heart Association for excellence in patient care. Marian has achieved prestigious designation as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. In addition, Marian has received the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Clinical Excellence Award. The medical center’s cancer program is distinguished as the only comprehensive Community Cancer Center on the Central Coast.  Marian is a Level III designated Trauma Center.  The need to meet the demand for quality, technologically-advanced care for a growing community led Marian to open its doors to a new state-of-the-art, 191-bed facility in the spring of 2012.  The new facility houses the largest and most comprehensive perinatology/neonatology program on the Central Coast providing the most compassionate, quality care to the littlest of patients.  Recently, the hospital became an accredited teaching facility, operating a Family Care Residency Program, providing training to physicians in the entire spectrum of family medicine, from labor and delivery to geriatrics and every life stage in between. In addition, residents receive training for a variety of employment types from hospitalists and private practice to clinics and urgent care settings.

As a place to live (or visit), Santa Maria truly lives up to its billing as an All-American City, a designation it earned in 1998.  Situated 12 miles from the Pacific coastline, Santa Maria enjoys mild temperatures throughout the year and smog-free air year-round.   Leisure time can be spent exploring the tallest beach dunes on the West Coast, biking through idyllic rolling hills, exploring world-class wineries, or enjoying world-class Rodeo.   Additionally, the City boasts a vibrant cultural scene anchored by the PCPA/Pacific Theatre Conservatory, which has been providing world-class theatre productions and training on the Allan Hancock College campus for more than 50 years.  PCPA is joined in the City by a wide range of performing and visual arts programs and five professional museums.

Little Known Facts about Santa Maria

  • The Legend of Zorro was based on the life of Solomon Pico, a murderous bandit who camped in the Santa Maria hills.
  • Legendary NFL coach John Madden was the head football coach at Allan Hancock College from 1962-1963.
  • In 1904, Old Maude, Santa Maria’s first producing oil well, produced 1,000,00 barrels of oil in its first 100 days of operation.
  • The Historic Santa Maria Inn (opened May 1917) was a favorite of William Randolph Hearst and his friends, who often stayed at the Inn on journeys to Hearst Castle. Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Jimmy Stewart, and Rudolph Valentino were among the Inn’s notable guests during the “Golden Year” in Hollywood.
  • The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex must west of Santa Maria boasts the highest beach dunes in western United States, some towering 500 feet. Cecil B. DeMile’s 1923 silent movie, “The Ten Commandments,” was filmed in the Dunes Preserve.   Due to weather and wind, the set was gradually buried in the sand, but recently preservationists have been successful in relocating and recovering several pieces.    More recently, parts of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series were filmed in the Dunes.
  • In 1978, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce copyrighted the Santa Maria Style Barbeque recipe to protect the genuine article.


For more information about Santa Maria and potential business opportunities, please contact:

Glenn Morris, ACE   *   805.925.2403   *   glenn@santamaria.com