Santa Barbara County benefits from both laissez faire and government-heavy policies.
The city of Santa Maria has a thriving agricultural sector, where strawberries, broccoli, lettuce, and grapes for the wine industry are all grown. The town is home to one of the world's largest greenhouses complexes -- four buildings each spanning 40 acres that grow hydroponic vegetables. Each building employees 200 people, said Dave Cross, the local director of economic development.
Santa Maria is also home to several manufacturers, including firms that make turbines for the energy sector, baby furniture, fire hoses and do aircraft retrofits.
Cross credits business-friendly policies from the local government for the success, including a fast track approval process for new or expanding enterprises.
But Santa Barbara County also benefits from the thriving technology sector and tourism dollars generated from its more tony coastal town of the same name. Strict building codes there have maintained the area's natural beauty, and keep the visitors coming.