Facebook to Join Apple, Amazon in the Research Triangle

Raleigh, NC – Sheryl Sandberg, the outgoing chief operating officer of Facebook’s parent organization Meta Platforms, recently came to the Research Triangle area of North Carolina as part of an effort to shore up support for a satellite office to join the company’s growing network. 

As part of her trip, Sandberg, who resigned from her long-time position on June 1, toured Raleigh and spoke at the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

“What we see coming out of this area are great opportunities for investments, great opportunities to hire incredible people as employees but also really strong opportunities to invest in creators and small businesses,” Sandberg said at the event.

“It’s not by accident that I find myself here at the Research Triangle here in North Carolina, because—you have to go to places that matter the most. This area has been a leader in technology, you don’t need me to say that a leader in investment but also a real source of innovation around the world and for our country,” she said.​

Meta, which also oversees Instagram, is already offering positions in Durham and will have a “significant presence” in the area along with Apple and Amazon, showing how North Carolina’s business friendly policies continue to attract some of the largest and most successful companies in the world. 

However, a portion of this is due to the state’s Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG), which Apple benefited from and is a “performance-based discretionary incentive program that provides cash grants directly to a company, when the company creates jobs and invests in the state” for decades. 

It’s a system akin to “corporate welfare.”

Brian Balfour, senior vice president of research at the John Locke Foundation, wrote: “Corporate welfare schemes are an attack on freedom. Decisions over the use of scarce means of production are shifted away from consumers and into the hands of the ruling classes, a move pushing us in the direction of central planning.” 

Corporate welfare, such as JDIG, may help bring the Metas and Apples of the world to North Carolina, but that can be at the expense of small mom and pop businesses in the state, which have suffered under the various COVID-19 lockdowns. 

Beyond the unprecedented nature of a pandemic, decades long corporate welfare schemes saddle taxpayers with the responsibility of offsetting the revenue losses that are incured by giving politically favored businesses handouts for decades.

It also creates an unfair business climate, burdens taxpayers who must pick up the slack and bets on companies that might not even be relevant or profitable in 10-30 years.

Research has also shown that JDIG’s promised jobs hardly ever materialize. 

At this point, it is unclear if Meta will reap the benefits of the JDIG.

Perhaps anticipating the challenge that Meta will face in the community, Sandberg also spent time with small business owners, including 321 Coffee, which hires young men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Interestingly, as she undertakes this swansong tour for Meta, Sandberg is also under investigation by the social media company for improper use of company funds. In a review going back several years, investigators are trying to determine whether Sandberg used Meta employees inappropriately to assist on some of her personal projects, including her upcoming wedding. She remains a member of the company’s board.

Want to learn more about who the government chose as economic winners and losers last year? Take a look at the John Locke Foundation 2021 Corporate Welfare Rundown here.