Economic Development Corporation of Mariposa County    

Business Opportunities in Mariposa County

Quality of life and work/life balance have become increasingly important considerations in American culture.  Mariposa County’s exceptional quality of life is, in fact, a major competitive asset for both promoting tourism and diversifying the local economy.  Preserving that quality of life with appropriate business opportunities is, therefore, a fundamental objective of the EDC’s economic development initiatives.   

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Target Industries

The Economic Vitality Strategy and Implementation Plan for Mariposa County, created in November of 2007, identifies three industry clusters that are wholly compatible with (and indeed stand to enhance) the County’s cherished quality of life:

  • The Arts (both visual and performing)
  • Clean/”Green” Technology
  • Local/Visitor Serving

For artists and artisans, Mariposa County offers…

  • Community support on numerous fronts: an arts council, artist organizations, co-ops, galleries, a storytelling festival, a symphony orchestra, a theater and more
  • Many world-renowned artists who have made their reputations in the area
  • Abundant inspiration, natural beauty and subject matter
  • An ample market with millions of tourists visiting annually
  • The availability of sizeable properties permits larger studios

For technology businesses, Mariposa County offers…

  • Broadband access in and around the town of Mariposa
  • A low cost of living that makes it easier to get started profitably
  • Minimal county regulations with no current need for a business license
  • Zoning that permits and even encourages Home Enterprises
  • Neighboring UC Merced and a relatively short 3-hour drive to Silicon Valley

For local/visitor-serving businesses, Mariposa County offers…

  • An ample market with millions of tourists visiting annually
  • A strong desire by local residents to “Shop Locally”
  • An active Chamber of Commerce to help promote new businesses
  • Vital yet historic shopping districts in most towns
  • The availability of suitable parcels for special “Destination Businesses”

Businesses in these three industries are welcomed here with open arms, and the EDC is prepared to assist in the start-up and/or relocation of such businesses.  Businesses in other industries may be welcomed here, provided that they are compatible with the County’s quality of life. 

To download a copy of the complete Economic Vitality Strategy and Implementation Plan for Mariposa County click here.   

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Doing Business in Mariposa County

Most counties in California impose strict requirements on businesses operated from homes.  Mariposa County, by contrast, has traditionally welcomed home-based businesses to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.  The recently adopted General Plan Update perhaps best summarizes this competitive asset:  “Home-based businesses have long been a significant factor in Mariposa County for their contribution to both the County economy and character.  Therefore, the County has encouraged home businesses with relatively few restrictions through its long-standing ‘Home Enterprise’ and ‘Rural Home Industry’ regulations.”  In fact, Mariposa County does not require a business license. 
While some home-based businesses may not be suitable or desirable, advances in technology have now made it possible for knowledge workers to telework or telecommute from home.  Two such industries are particularly well-suited for diversifying Mariposa County’s economy:  the arts and technology.  A studio is all most artists require to work from home, and an office (with broadband access) is all most knowledge workers need.  The combination of business-friendly regulations and rural quality of life make Mariposa County quite attractive for both target industries. 

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Home Enterprise and Rural Home Industry in Mariposa County

Mariposa County’s lenient Home Enterprise and Rural Home Industry regulations enable businesses to start small and plan big.  Indeed, home-based businesses have long been a significant factor in Mariposa County for their contribution to both the local economy and its cherished quality of life.  County government, therefore, endeavors to encourage and support home-based businesses with relatively few restrictions through its long-standing “Home Enterprise” and “Rural Home Industry” regulations. 
Home Enterprise
Home Enterprises are the foundation of economic diversification in Mariposa County.  It is important to the County to ensure that these types of businesses do not adversely impact on surrounding neighbors.  The factors used to achieve this balance between the interests of neighbors and the needs and success of the Home Enterprise include traffic, noise, safety, dust, size of parcel, character of neighborhood, type of business, and visual compatibility of structures.  
Home Enterprises are based in residential areas and generally involve a service or sales of products fabricated or produced onsite.  Home Enterprises may operate with more than one employee.  The traffic threshold determines whether or not a hearing is required prior to the business commencing operations.  Depending on location and surrounding land uses, Home Enterprises on parcels under five acres in size may not be appropriate for allowing either employees, customer traffic, or both. 
The vast majority of Home Enterprises are intended to remain small businesses.  For business that plan to grow, the purpose of the Home Enterprise is to allow for “incubation.”  Once these businesses outgrow home usage, they relocate to appropriately zoned lands. 
Rural Home Industry
Rural Home Industries differ from Home Enterprise.  The purpose of the Rural Home Industry is to allow a business to grow on appropriately zoned and developed property.  County Codes specify these standards, which include a requirement for a minimum parcel size, access on a maintained road, and a maximum of three non-family employees. 

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Obtaining a Fictitious Business Name

Mariposa does not require a business license in order for one to conduct business within the county. Instead, the requirement is the filing of a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement.  To download a copy of the Fictitious Business Name Form click here
After the appropriate form is filed with the County Clerk the document must be published in an adjudicated newspaper in the County of Mariposa (The Mariposa Gazette).  Arrangements for publication in the newspaper must be made by the filer.  
For more information please go to

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Building Permits and Large-scale Project Planning

Development Services
Virtually all proposals to undertake any business activities on private land in Mariposa County are regulated by the Development Services departments.  These three departments—Building, Health, and Planning—are each independently managed but integrated by process.  The Development Services departments work cooperatively to expedite project review and permit issuance as authorized by the Board of Supervisors. 
The Planning Department
Mariposa Planning is responsible for the administration, operations and management of all planning activities.  The Department is not compartmentalized, but activities fall under Permit Activities, Policy Planning and Enforcement.  Mariposa Planning carries out police powers enabled by the General Plan and zoning regulations.

The Permit Activities Division processes applications for public and private parties interested in obtaining various types of permits and development entitlements from the County.  The Division’s activities range from providing information and disclosure for due diligence analysis to shepherding Environmental Impact Reports through the administrative process.  These activities involve decisions from the Staff level through the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

The Policy Planning Division comprises the research and support arm of the Department.  The Division provides background materials, reports, and research for Planning Advisory Committees, other boards, other committees and commissions, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors.  The Division may prepare preliminary versions of reports, plans, and documents for public review and comments.

The Enforcement Division carries out the police powers of Mariposa Planning in terms of investigating and preparing required actions related to violations of the General Plan, development permits, and zoning code provisions.

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The Mariposa County Economy

As the Home of Yosemite, Mariposa County is host to some 3-4 million guests every year. Yosemite represents Mariposa County’s highest competitive advantage in terms of economic opportunity. As an economic generator, it provides direct employment for hundreds of Mariposa County’s residents, and indirectly supports thousands of other residents who work in other industries (e.g. auto repair, other services and retail). Tourism in Yosemite is also the County’s primary revenue generator through the Transient Occupancy Tax.

The Mariposa County economy can be described as service-producing with concentrations of employment in the accommodations industry, governmental services, retail trade, and eating and drinking establishments. The local economy is heavily weighted to servicing visitors, which also benefits local residents with choices not normally found in such a small County (with only 18,000 residents). Few businesses export goods and services outside the County; those businesses represent a small portion of the County’s overall economic activity.

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Mariposa County Employment

The table below shows employment in Mariposa County by industry for 2012.  Up-to-date and more detailed information is available at California's Employment Development Department

Total Nonfarm


Total Wage and Salary


Total Private


Goods Producing


Service Providing


Private Service Providing


Private Service Providing - Residual


Mining and Logging


Total Farm






Trade, Transportation and Utilities


Wholesale Trade


Retail Trade


Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities


Professional and Business Services


Educational and Health Services


Leisure and Hospitality




Federal Government


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