Updated Sep. 4, 2014 at 1:34 p.m.

RTI study: Facebook's data center delivers huge impact to NC

Published: 2014-09-04 07:57:00
Updated: 2014-09-04 13:34:19


Facebook's massive data center in western N.C. hasn't delivered thousands of jobs, but it has provided a substantial boost to the state's economy of $680 million. So says RTI International in a new report.

Facebook (Nasdq: FB) worked with RTI in generating the report, so this is not self-serving publicity. RTI is a globally respected research institution. When RTI puts its name on a report, the data matters.

"Since construction began on the Forest City Data Center in 2010, Facebook has had positive impacts on the local economy and state of North Carolina," sums up RTI's Zachary Oliver.

Yes, it's true there aren't thousands of people working at the data center in Forest City, which opened in 2011.

But just like Google's big outpost in Lenoir and other such centers (Apple, IBM, many more) built in the state (drawn here  by cheap land and utility rates), these high-tech data hubs are all about safely securing information and making it readily available in these days of frenzied Internet growth.

However, the RTI study notes that construction of the center at more than $500 million has helped generate some 4,700 jobs in total along with another $680 million in economic output.

In a blog post about the report, Keven McCammon of Facebook noted:

"In 2013, Facebook’s data center operations in Forest City (ongoing, non-construction activity) were linked to the following impacts:

  • $17 million in operational expenditures, which generated $27 million in economic output and supported approximately 310 jobs statewide
  • For every $1 million of output resulting directly from direct operating expenditures, another $600,000 in output was generated elsewhere in the state
  • Facebook’s 2013 operations in North Carolina and the economic activity they generated are associated with over $1 million in state and local taxes
  • In total, from 2011-2013 the data center generated a total gross economic impact of $707 million and supported 5,000 jobs across North Carolina"

 Facebook also is involved with the local communities as a corporate citizen. The report notes:

  • $450,000 in grants awarded to local nonprofits and organizations
  • Partnership with the Town of Forest City, Rutherford County Schools, and PANGAEA Internet to provide free Wi-Fi access to local students in their homes.
  • Partnership with Isothermal Community College to create the Data Center Institute.

Noted McCammon: "As Facebook continues its mission of connecting the world, we are proud of our role as a community partner in strengthening the Forest City region and adding to its long-term success."

The report can be read online.

(Note: This post has been updated to correct an error by me in calculating the total impact.)

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