Lying along the Pacific Coast, Naval Base Ventura County is the county’s largest employer with more than 11,000 military and 9,000 civilian employees, most of whom live in southwest Ventura County where the installation is situated. Nearby Oxnard, with 207,254 residents, is the county’s largest city. Other nearby cities are Camarillo (population 67,608) and Port Hueneme (population 22,423).
NB Ventura County is a major economic driver for the county, with an annual economic impact of $2 billion, according to the 2010 Naval Base Ventura County Economic Impact and Community Involvement report. Of the $2 billion in total economic activity, the base contributed $79.5 million in state and local tax revenues and $1.1 million in federal impact aid to support local schools. Total payroll was $711 million. Military retirees and veterans living in Ventura County contributed $302 million in jobs, industrial output and taxes to the local economy in 2010, the most recent year the report was available.
Ventura County, linked by U.S. 101 to Los Angeles County to the southeast and Santa Barbara County to the northwest, has a population of 850,536, according to the 2016 U.S. Census. In 2013, the county supported 314,300 wage and salary civilian jobs. In August 2016, unemployment in the county was 5.8 percent, compared with a statewide rate of 5.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics.
The county’s gross domestic product totaled $70 billion in 2011, with more than 25 percent from manufacturing. Within manufacturing, leading industry clusters included pharmaceuticals ($7.9 billion), computers and electronics ($3 billion), machinery manufacturing ($1.1 billion) and biomedical devices ($561 million).
While overall manufacturing employment declined slightly in Ventura County because of state and national economic conditions, the county has maintained its relative concentration of manufacturing industries. The second-largest economic sector in the county is financial services, including insurance and real estate, with $13.7 billion in output. While this industry underwent corporate restructuring during the recession, the county has not seen a dramatic decrease in employment compared with other parts of the country.
Agriculture and food processing make up a significant industry cluster, with an estimated total output of $3.3 billion. More than 60 percent of the agricultural crop value in the county is fruit, some of which is exported around the world. Ventura enjoys some of the highest per-acre agricultural production values in California.
The Port of Hueneme is an important part of the economic infrastructure; it is a major import site for vehicles from Asia, and bananas and other produce from South America. It also exports American automobiles, agricultural equipment and produce. As one of Ventura County’s primary economic engines, the port moves $7.5 billion in cargo annually, ranking in the Top 100 nationally among U.S. ports.
Oxnard, the population center of the county with over 200,000 people, is strategically located along U.S. 101 in west Ventura County, about 62 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles and 35 miles to the southeast of Santa Barbara.
Oxnard combines a coastal setting and small-town charm with its position as a hub of manufacturing, agriculture, financial services, defense, international trade and tourism. Incorporated in 1903, Oxnard works strategically to strengthen and support all sectors of its economy. Local assets include master-planned industrial parks, prime commercial and retail sites, a highly rated regional medical center and hospital, a flourishing community college, a well-trained workforce and the amenities of a coastal community. The moderate climate, fertile topsoil and generally adequate groundwater supply lead to year-round agriculture production in the surrounding Oxnard Plain.
Oxnard is well positioned for sustainable growth and is a prime location for entrepreneurs, investors and businesses that want to start, expand or relocate their business or project.
The city covers about 27 square miles, with the Pacific Ocean as its western border and the cities of Ventura to the north and Camarillo to the east. Naval Base Ventura County, consisting of Naval Air Station Point Mugu and Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme, is just south of Oxnard.
Port, Rail and Transit Access
Oxnard, as well as all of Ventura County, is accessible to major markets, with a transportation infrastructure that is constantly being improved to meet the needs of the growing community. Transportation in and around Oxnard is easy because of the city’s location near major California highways and because of the Oxnard Transportation Center, the city’s hub for rail and bus service, including Amtrak’s intercity trains and Metrolink commuter trains to the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.
Goods are moved by highway, rail and the port. U.S. 101, one of the state’s major north-south freeways, passes through the center of Oxnard and is the primary route for commercial truck lines, contract carriers and noncommercial vehicles. Twenty-seven miles east of Oxnard, State Route 126 connects with Interstate 5, providing access to the state’s only continuous north-south interstate route. California’s Route 1 channels travelers along the state’s scenic coast. The Union Pacific Railroad connects Oxnard to all major West Coast destinations and markets.
The Port of Hueneme, the only deep-water port between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, facilitates the movement of products such as fresh fruit and produce, automobiles and heavy equipment, and is a major international trade resource.
For those arriving by air, Oxnard is about 75 minutes northwest of Los Angeles International Airport and 50 minutes west of Burbank Bob Hope Airport. Oxnard has a general aviation airport owned by Ventura County — Oxnard Airport, classified as a non-hub commercial service airport. It lies just west of downtown Oxnard and is near the beach and other attractions. The airport has fixed-base operators providing services such as aircraft charters, aircraft maintenance and pilot supplies, and hosts several car rental agencies and shuttle service to Los Angeles International Airport. There are no commercial passenger flights at this time.
In 2014, Oxnard’s median income of $62,349 was slightly higher than that of the state and lower than the county’s median household income of $77,335. Although household incomes declined during the recession, they are now on an upward path, according to the 2013 City of Oxnard Community Profile.
Ventura County residents enjoy near-limitless opportunities for year-round recreational activities such as hiking, biking, swimming, surfing, fishing, golfing and more. Residents find easy access to vast open spaces, beaches and coastline, agricultural areas and mountains plus natural wonders such as the Los Padres National Forest, Channel Islands National Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Point Mugu State Beach.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county covers 2,208 square miles that divide by terrain into the fertile Oxnard Plain, home to the cities of Oxnard, Camarillo, Port Hueneme and much of Ventura; small coastal mountains, such as the Santa Ynez Mountains, Simi Hills, Santa Monica Mountains and the Piru Mountains; and the intermountain valleys of the Transverse Range. The Santa Clara River Valley is the most conspicuous valley; other valleys include the Conejo Valley, the Simi Valley, the Santa Rosa Valley, the Tierra Rejada Valley and the Las Posas Valley.
The climate, though mostly mild and dry, varies because of the topographical differences. Annual precipitation is small, so conserving water and obtaining water from additional sources outside Ventura County are vital concerns. The Santa Clara River is the principal waterway. Lake Casitas, an artificial reservoir, is the largest body of water. Most of the population of Ventura County lives in the southern part of the county, the major population centers being the Oxnard Plain and the Simi and
The highest peaks in the county are Mount Pinos (8,831 feet) and Frazier Mountain (8,017 feet), in the San Emigdio Mountains, and Reyes Peak (7,525 feet). The uplands are well-timbered with coniferous forests and receive plentiful snow in winter. Mount Pinos is sacred to the Chumash Indians. To them, it was “Iwihinmu,” and as the highest peak in the area with a spectacular view in three directions, was considered the center of the universe.
Fifty-three percent of the county’s total area is made up of national forest. Of the lands outside national forests, about 59 percent is agricultural and 17.5 percent urban.
North of State Route 126, the county is mountainous and mostly uninhabited and contains some of the most unspoiled, rugged and inaccessible wilderness remaining in Southern California. Most of it is in the Los Padres National Forest and includes the Chumash Wilderness in the northernmost portion, adjacent to Kern County, as well as the large Sespe Wilderness and portions of the Dick Smith Wilderness and Matilija Wilderness; both of these protected areas straddle the line with Santa Barbara County. All the wilderness areas are under jurisdiction of Los Padres National Forest.
Ventura County has some of the world’s most productive farmland, and agriculture is a vital part of the economy. The mild climate and fertile soils enable farmers to grow and harvest a variety of high-value crops on a year-round basis. More than $1 billion in farm sales and 20,000 jobs are generated every year by Ventura County agriculture. Crop production, processing, shipping and other related industries add $1.25 billion to the local economy every year.
Naval Base Ventura County
Naval Base Ventura County, with its geographically separated facilities at Port Hueneme, Point Mugu and San Nicolas Island and its 36,000-square-mile Sea Test Range, maintains a strong military presence within the county. The installation employs about 20,000 military and civilian personnel, making it the largest employer in the county, and it also supports an additional indirect workforce. Its overall economic impact in the community is $2 billion annually.
The Port of Hueneme is also an important asset as a deep-water “break-bulk” facility that provides Ventura County with a port of entry and with foreign trade zone status. The city’s strong transportation infrastructure includes a municipal airport, a regional transportation center, rail service and direct access to U.S.101 and Pacific Coast Highway 1. It is well-served by municipal and regional utilities for water, wastewater, energy and telecommunications at competitive prices.